Banks lead market gains after stellar private jobs data

April 5, 2017 09:50 AM

U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday after solid private employment data underscored the strength of the economy, boosting financial stocks and helping calm investor jitters over President Donald Trump's ability to deliver on his policy plans

The ADP National Employment report showed U.S. private employers added 263,000 jobs in March, more than they hired in February and well above economists' expectations.

The report serves as a precursor to Friday's nonfarm payrolls report, which includes both public and private-sector employment.

The S&P 500 financial sector rose 0.84 %, leading the seven gainers among the 11 major S&P sectors. The financial index's gains were led by banks, which start reporting first-quarter results next week.

At 9:57 a.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average was up 147.68 points, or 0.71 %, at 20,836.92, the S&P 500 was up 13.1 points, or 0.56 %, at 2,373.26 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 25.80 points, or 0.44 %, at 5,924.41.

Still, the indexes were trading in a narrow range, as they have been for most of this week as investors shy away from big bets ahead of a highly anticipated meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The meeting, starting Thursday and which Trump expects will be a "very difficult one", is likely to focus on reining in North Korea's arms program and China-U.S. trade, which would have implications on American companies in China.

The talks come on the heels of Trump facing recent setbacks in pushing reforms through Congress, which have led some investors to question his ability to deliver on tax reform and other pro-business promises.

The financial market has rallied on these promises, with analysts saying the expectations of tax cuts have been priced in. The lofty market valuations will be in sharp focus with the first-quarter earnings season around the corner.

Walgreens fell 1.6 % and weighed the most on the S&P after the drugstore chain operator reported a surprise drop in quarterly sales.

Panera Bread jumped 14 % to $312.16 after JAB Holdings said it would buy the bakery chain for $7.16 billion.

The Federal Reserve will release, at 2:00 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), the minutes of its March meeting, where it raised interest rates. The minutes could reveal how policymakers view the hike trajectory for the year and their thoughts on Trump's policies.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,048 to 629. On the Nasdaq, 1,829 issues rose and 601 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 16 52-week highs and three lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 35 highs and 18 lows.

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