Wall Street was easing from its best levels of Wednesday following warnings by billionaire-investor Carl Icahn that the stock market is due for a sizable drop. Stocks rallied earlier, led by energy and biotech stocks after market-friendly employment data this morning. Investors also were looking to remarks today by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen in St. Louis later today, hoping that the dovish Yellen will continue to plug the economy while maintaining a cautious approach towards interest rate hikes.
Wall Street was building on early gains more than an hour before the open when Automated Data Processing said that the economy added 200,000 new jobs in the private sector in September, slightly better than expectations for a 190,000 gain. This could result in slight upward revisions to Friday's non-farm payroll report, currently set with a 203,000 consensus.
Among economic data released today, manufacturing in the central Midwest had a challenging month during September, with the purchasing manager index for the Chicago region falling to a 48.7 reading, down from 54.4 during August and slipping below the 50.0 threshold indicating a contraction. Analysts, on average, had been looking for a 53.6 reading this month.
European markets rallied today supported by expectations the European Central Bank will maintain a highly accommodative monetary policy. Early this morning, inflation data showed that EU-zone consumer prices contracted in September by 0.1%, and German retail sales fell 0.4%, lagging expectations for a 0.2% gain.
Crude oil was up 6 cents to $45.31 per barrel. Natural gas was down 5 cents to $2.53 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $11.40 to $1,115.30 per ounce, while silver was 8 cents to $14.50 an ounce. Copper was up 9 cents at $2.34 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.16% to $14.63 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 1.85% to $11.66. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 1.04% to 13.55 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 1.04% to $106.87. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.57% to $13.89.
Here's where the U.S. markets stood at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index up 98.39 (+1.02%) to 9,720.46
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 110.30 (+0.69%) to 16,159.43
S&P 500 up 14.22 (+0.75%) to 1,898.31
Nasdaq Composite Index up 45.60 (+1.01%) to 4,562.92
Nikkei 225 Index up 2.70%
Hang Seng Index up 1.41%
Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.48%
FTSE 100 Index up 2.58%
CAC 40 up 2.57%
DAX up 2.22%
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index up 1.61%
NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.79%
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 1.59%
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