Markets

Midday Update: Stocks Rally on Upbeat Payroll Report

Stocks rallied Wednesday on a bullish labor market report, but have come off their session highs in sympathy with a pull-back in oil prices following an industry inventory report. Semiconductor and large-cap tech names drove the Nasdaq to another record high, while component stocks McDonalds ( MCD ) and Caterpillar ( CAT ) were fueling a triple-digit gain in the blue-chip index.

Futures gained altitude before the open following a monthly report from Automated Data Processing showing a better-than-expected 263,000 increase in private payrolls, nearly 100,000 more than what was expected.

The upbeat data on the labor market -- coming just two days before the pivotal non-farm payroll report -- helped offset a miss on both the purchasing manager's and Institute for Supply Management indices measuring the services sector of the economy.

The final PMI services sector index for March dipped to 52.8 from 53.8 in February and 52.9 for the preliminary measure, missing 53.1 expectations.

Concurrently, the ISM index declined to 55.2 in March from February's 57.6, missing 57.0 estimates.

The benchmark averages retreated from their highs after the Energy Information Administration reported a surprise 1.6 million barrel increase in U.S. crude oil stockpiles midmorning. Brent crude slipped under $55 per barrel, trimming gains in the energy sector and erasing close to 100 points off the Dow.

Crude oil was up $0.18 to $51.21 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.01 to $3.30 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $8.60 to $1,249.80 an ounce, while silver was down $0.09 to $18.24 an ounce. Copper was up $0.06 to $2.67 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.33% to $10.75 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 0.19% to $7.81. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 0.64% to 23.30 while SPDR Gold Shares was down 0.66% to $118.83. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.40% to 17.26.

Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:

US MARKETS

NYSE Composite Index was up 46.23 points (+0.40%) to 11,516.26

Dow Jones Industrial Index was up 138.65 points (+0.67%) to 20,827.44

S&P 500 was up 12.94 points (+0.55%) to 2,373.21

Nasdaq Composite Index was up 26.72 points (+0.45%) to 5,925.45

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

FTSE 100 was up 9.86 points (+0.14%) to 7,331.68

DAX was down 64.80 points (-0.53%) to 12,217.54

CAC 40 was down 9.28 points (-0.18%) to 5,091.85

Nikkei 225 was up 51.02 points (+0.27%) to 18,861.27

Hang Seng Index was up 139.32 points (+0.57%) to 24,400.80

Shanghai China Composite Index was up 47.79 points (+1.48%) to 3,270.31

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index was up 56.90 points (+0.49%) to 10,941.40

NYSE Financial Sector Index was up 28.14 points (+0.39%) to 7,207.37

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index was up 37.86 points (+0.30%) to 12,791.90

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) PLUG (+73.08%) Signed supply agreement with Amazon ( AMZN ) that includes an equity investment

(+) NEOT (+23.23%) Gets U.S. patent for LIPO-202 lead clinical asset

(+) INNL (+19.77%) Agrees to be acquired by Gurnet Point for up to $6.65 per share

(+) PNRA (+13.85%) Sign merger deal with JAB Holding

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) UNIS (-75.41%) Seeks bridge financing, doesn't have enough cash to fund operations beyond week ending April 7

(-) OHRP (-14.94%) Priced 20.25 million stock offering at 9% discount

(-) CGI (-14.93%) Prescience Point Research Group said stock does not have any tangible book value

(-) QTNT (-8.21%) Prices stock offering at 10.4% discount

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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