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US stocks: indices cap week of gains

business Updated: Jul 07, 2007 11:24 IST
Jennifer Coogan
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US stocks gained on Friday after rising oil prices lifted energy shares and a strong jobs report reassured investors about the economy.

Technology and industrial stocks were among the best performers after the Labor Department's monthly report on job creation topped expectations. Shares of heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc and IBM helped lead the Dow higher.

Shares of major oil companies rose as New York oil prices hit 10-month highs. The energy sector was the biggest advancer out of all 10 S&P 500 sectors, with the S&P Energy index up 1 per cent.

The jobs data "supports the Fed's view that growth is improving. If there's anything to fear, it is that the moderation in inflation will prove temporary because the labor market is tightening," said Charles Lieberman, chief investment officer of Advisors Capital Management, LLC in Paramus, New Jersey.

"In the near term, there is very little prospect of a policy change, so there's little standing in the way of the stock market," he added.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 45.84 points, or 0.34 per cent, at 13,611.68. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 5.04 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 1,530.44. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 9.86 points, or 0.37 per cent, at 2,666.51.

On the week, the Dow gained 1.5 per cent and the S&P climbed 1.8 per cent. The Nasdaq advanced 2.4 per cent, its best weekly performance since late-March.

Interest-rate sensitive sectors, such as utilities, dipped as the jobs data erased expectations the Federal Reserve would ease monetary policy, sending bond yields higher. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 10/32 to yield 5.19 per cent.

Exxon Mobil Corp shares were up 1.5 per cent at $86.46, making it the top-weighted positive on the S&P 500. The third-biggest influence on the index was shares of Chevron Corp up 1.3 per cent to $87.68.

Caterpillar rose 1.7 per cent to $78.81, making it the biggest positive influence on the Dow. Industrial conglomerate Honeywell International Inc was also a big gainer, rising 1.2 per cent to $59.08.

International Business Machines stock rose 0.9 per cent to $109.03.

Among the biggest gainers in the retail sector were shares of Target Corp. Speculation that the No. 2 discount chain may be looking to sell its credit card business sent shares of Target up 6.1 percent to $68.10.

Macy's Inc shares also traded sharply higher amid renewed talk that the department store chain may be the target of a buyout.

Macy's stock was up 5.6 per cent to $41.99 on the NYSE.

Utility stocks capped the S&Ps gains. The stocks, which pay relatively generous dividends, face competition when bond yields rise from investors seeking, steady income assets.

Shares of Duke Energy Corp fell 1.6 per cent. Shares of utility PPL Corp. also declined 1.6 per cent to $47.39.

US employers added a higher-than-expected 132,000 non-farm jobs in June, while hiring figures for April and May were also revised significantly upward, according to a Labor Department report on Friday.

Trading was below average on the NYSE, with about 1.25 billion shares changing hands, less than last year's estimated daily average of 1.84 billion, while on Nasdaq about 1.64 billion shares traded, below last year's daily average of 2.02 billion.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones by a ratio of about 19 to 12 on the NYSE and by 17 to 12 on Nasdaq.