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U.S. stocks gain despite employment data and ahead of Fed speakers

Stock MarketsMay 05, 2016 11:11AM ET
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© Reuters. U.S. stocks rise despite downbeat employment data; markets await Fed appearances – Wall Street edged up on Thursday despite weak labor market data ahead of the monthly employment report and while waiting for Federal Reserve (Fed) officials to speak later in the session, as oil continued to surge more than 2%.

At 15:07GMT, or 11:07AM ET, the Dow Jones gained 47 points, or 0.27%, while the S&P 500 rose 5 points, or 0.24%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite traded up 8 points, or 0.17%.

Weekly jobless claims posted their largest increase in more than a year, while Challenger job cuts increased in April with 2016 planned layoffs reaching a seven-year high.

The data painted a grimmer picture ahead of the release of the monthly jobs report on Friday, but didn’t appear to faze the dollar.

At 15:08GMT, or 11:08AM ET, the U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, continued to recover from 16-month lows and was trading up 0.49% at 93.73.

For the rest of the session, markets will focus on speeches from several Fed officials throughout the day in an attempt to measure the position of the U.S. central bank on eventual policy tightening.

After the market close on Wednesday, Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari dismissed the possibility of a recession stateside this year and said he expected moderate growth.

Kashkari suggested that, as long as inflation remains low, the Fed will focus on the labor market and indicated that future rate hikes would not occur until “the data allows it” , but gave no specifics on what he was focusing on.

St. Louis Fed president James Bullard is due to speak on the economy at 15:30GMT, or 11:30AM ET, at Santa Barbara County's Economic Summit.

San Francisco Fed president John Williams was scheduled to appear on CNBC at 17:40GMT, or 13:40ET.

Both Bullard and Williams will then join up with Atlanta Fed president Dennis Lockhart and Dallas Fed president Rob Kaplan at the Hoover Institution's International Monetary Stability Conference to participate in a panel after Wall Street closes at 23:15GMT, or 19:15ET.

Meanwhile, oil surged on Thursday as Canadian forest fires caused many of the companies in the rich oil sand area to close down pipelines and escalating tensions in Libya caused concern over short-term supply.

U.S. crude futures gained 2.33% to $44.80 a barrel by 15:09GMT, or 11:09AM ET, and Brent oil advanced 1.93% to $45.48.

In earnings news, Merck&Co (NYSE:MRK) led the Dow lower, losing almost 2% after a fall in the second largest U.S. drugmaker’s revenue caused it to miss consensus.

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) fell almost 4% after missing on earnings and its ambitious plans to produce 500,000 electric cars every year starting in 2018 failed to convince investors.

On the upside, Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) jumped almost 7% after the second largest U.S. natural gas producer reported quarterly earnings and announced a $470 million deal to divest some assets.

Kraft Heinz Co (NASDAQ:KHC) surged more than 4% in Wednesday’s after reporting better-than-expected first quarter earnings.

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) also gained above 4% after cost cutting allowed it to beat consensus with its own quarterly report.

Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) also impressed investors and rose nearly 4% after reporting a 30% increase in revenue.

U.S. stocks gain despite employment data and ahead of Fed speakers

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