S&P 500 ends at another record; data puts jobs in focus
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 closed at another record high on Wednesday as signs of steady private-sector hiring suggested that the economy was slowly building momentum after a winter-related pullback.
That also put more focus on Friday's government jobs data, which is among the most widely watched economic indicators.
"There's positioning ahead of that report," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president of BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
He also said "there was money moving in at the end of the quarter so now there's an upward bias."
The jobs report is expected to show that employers added 200,000 to nonfarm payrolls in March, the largest gain in four months, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
Eight of 10 S&P 500 sector indexes ended in positive territory, led by the consumer discretionary sector index .SPLRCD, up 0.7 percent.
Wednesday's data from payrolls processor ADP showed U.S. private-sector employers added 191,000 workers in March, slightly below the 195,000 forecast, while gains in the previous month were revised to 178,000 from a previously reported 139,000, signaling that a winter-related impact on job growth earlier this year was easing.
Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods jumped 1.6 percent in February, the biggest rise since September and above a 1.2 percent estimate, the Commerce Department said. January's durable goods orders were revised to show a larger drop of 1.0 percent instead of the previously reported decline of 0.7 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 40.39 points or 0.24 percent, to end at 16,573. The S&P 500 .SPX gained 5.38 points or 0.29 percent, to finish at 1,890.90, a record closing high. The S&P 500 also hit an intraday record high of 1,893.17.
The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 8.416 points or 0.20 percent, to close at 4,276.456.
Shares of MannKind Corp (MNKD.O) soared 73.9 percent to end at $6.99. U.S. health advisers recommended approval of the company's inhaled diabetes drug on Tuesday.
Among the day's decliners, fertilizer company Agrium Inc (AGU.TO)(AGU.N) said a late start to spring and railroad-related backlogs will result in first-quarter earnings per share just above breakeven. Its shares lost 1.4 percent to $96.15.
In another weather-related announcement, Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) said flight cancellations reduced its March quarter profit by $55 million. Shares dipped 0.1 percent to $35.70.
Apollo Education Group Inc (APOL.O) tumbled 8.8 percent to $32.06. The company reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue. Apollo also said it had received a subpoena from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General, seeking information about the operations of the Northeast region of the University of Phoenix.
DFC Global Corp DLLR.O gained 5.2 percent to $9.45. The pawn and payday lender said it would be acquired by private equity firm Lone Star Funds for about $1.3 billion, including debt.
About 6.2 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, slightly below the 6.5 billion average so far this month, according to data from BATS Global Markets.
Advancers beat decliners on the New York Stock Exchange by 1,721 to 1,289 and on the Nasdaq by 1,473 to 1,150.
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