S&P 500 At Record High, Jobs Data Supports Easy Money Policy

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, October 17, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, October 17, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK  - U.S. stocks climbed on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 at a record intraday high, after weaker-than-expected job creation last month strengthened expectations the Federal Reserve will stimulate the economy into next year.

Many economists think the Fed will hold off on scaling back its easy money policy, which has kept borrowing costs low, until next year. Federal Reserve policy to stimulate the economy has been a key factor in stocks' rally.

"This is the extension of a momentum rally that started in September when the Fed said ‘no taper; 'liquidity is underpinning the market," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New jersey.

She said seasonality may begin to play a part in the rally's extension, as the market traditionally rallies at the year-end, and specific earnings are also giving investors hope.

"Earnings from some companies, including key industrials, are suggesting demand is slowly but surely beginning to pick up; it's turning a corner," she said.

Netflix (NFLX.O) shares led percentage gainers on the Nasdaq 100 .NDX a day after it said it had added 1.3 million U.S. streaming customers in September. Netflix's third quarter net income reached $32 million, up from $8 million a year earlier. Shares gained 6.7 percent to $378.72 after hitting a record $389.16.

U.S. employers added 148,000 workers last month, well below the 180,000 economists had expected, suggesting a loss of momentum in the economy. The data was seen as supporting the Fed's decision to maintain its $85 billion a month in bond purchases.

"The September numbers vindicate the Fed's decision to postpone tapering, said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio manager at Wells Fargo Funds Management in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

"If people are expecting a Fed taper in December, they may not find that under the Christmas tree. Instead, it might be January or March," he said.

The Fed threw markets into a loop in mid-September by keeping its stimulus intact when most expected the start of a wind-down. The Fed wanted more evidence of solid economic recovery.

The new job count for August was revised higher and the September unemployment rate ticked down to 7.2 percent from 7.3 percent, but employment gains in July were the weakest since June 2012.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 105.34 points or 0.68 percent, to 15,497.54, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 12.69 points or 0.73 percent, to 1,757.35 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 21.44 points or 0.55 percent, to 3,941.489.

The S&P hit a record intraday high at 1,759.33.

Transocean (RIG.N) shares rose 4.8 percent to $48.80 after S&P Dow Jones Indices announced the drilling services company will replace Dell (DELL.O) on the S&P 500 index after the close of trading next Monday.

Shares of cloud software maker VMware Inc (VMW.N) rose 8 percent to $89.28 a day after it reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit.

High-end handbag maker Coach (COH.N) fell 7 percent to $50.37 after it posted smaller-than-expected quarterly revenue.

By Rodrigo Campos | Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:47am EDT(Reuters)

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos, additional reporting by Ellen Freilich; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Kenneth Barry)


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