U.S. stocks gain on data, Fed taper talk weighs; Dow rises 0.03%


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Investing.com - U.S. stocks rose on Monday amid optimism for a more robust U.S. economy down the road though uncertainty as to how stocks will react to an eventual Federal Reserve decision to wind down stimulus tools capped gains.

At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.03%, the S&P 500 index rose 0.18%, while the Nasdaq Composite index rose 0.15%.

Data released last week continued to boost stock prices Monday by fanning hopes for a more robust U.S. economy down the road.

The Department of Labor Friday that the U.S. economy added 203,000 jobs in November, beating expectations for a 180,000 increase and up from a downwardly revised 200,000 rise the previous month.

In the private sector, 196,000 jobs were added last month compared to expectations for a 180,000 rise, after an increase of 214,000 in October.

The report also said the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.0% in November, from 7.3% in October, beating expectations for a downtick to 7.2%.

Also on Friday, the preliminary Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index increased to 82.5 in December from 75.1 the previous month, far surpassing expectations for a 76.0 reading.

The numbers boosted stock prices by stoking sentiments that a healthier U.S. economy will lead to healthier corporate fundamentals.

Uncertainty over the fate of monetary stimulus measures capped gains.

Stimulus tools such as the Fed's USD85 billion in monthly bond purchases drive down interest rates to spur recovery, boosting stock prices in the process, though talk of their dismantling can dampen stock prices by fanning uncertainty as to how equities will perform without a monetary crutch.

Earlier Monday, Fed St. Louis President James Bullard said the chances of a Fed decision to taper asset purchases are growing now that the labor market has shown improvement.

"A small taper might recognize labor market improvement while still providing the Committee the opportunity to carefully monitor inflation during the first half of 2014," Bullard said in prepared remarks of a speech he delivered earlier.

"Should inflation not return toward target, the Committee could pause tapering at subsequent meetings."

Many investors expect tapering to begin early in 2014, though some have not ruled out the possibility of a start date beginning at the Fed's Dec. 17-18 policy meeting.

Leading Dow Jones Industrial Average performers included General Electric, up 0.95%, Chevron, up 0.90%, and JPMorgan Chase, up 0.83%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average's worst performers included McDonald's, down 1.13%, The Travelers Companies, down 0.62%, and Walt Disney, down 0.48%.

European indices, meanwhile, finished higher.

After the close of European trade, the EURO STOXX 50 rose 0.40%, France's CAC 40 rose 0.11%, while Germany's DAX 30 rose 0.25%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 finished up 0.11%.

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This article appears in: Investing , Forex and Currencies

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