by Marc Bastow | November 1, 2012 4:59 pm
U.S. stocks managed a broad rally Thursday as upbeat economic news brought some relief amid a still-difficult situation as much of the country still recovers from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
In a prelude to Friday’s monthly jobs report — the last before Tuesday’s presidential election — payments and human resources provider ADP announced that U.S. private-sector employers added 158,000 jobs in October, above initial expectations, and weekly jobless claims fell by 9,000 last week to 363,000, exceeding expectations.
The reports offset news from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas that the number of planned job cuts by employers is now at a five-month high, and sparked the indices higher. Thursday ended with the Nasdaq up 1.44% to 3,020.06, the S&P 500 ahead 1.09% at 1,427.59, and the Dow up 1.04% to 13,232.62.
In earnings news, oil titan Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) reported better-than-expected Q3 profits, but returns were blunted to marginal gains as investors appear concerned about other operating issuess.
Struggling cosmetics maker Avon (NYSE:AVP) finished up more than 1% despite announcing that it would slash its dividend nearly 74% to trim future expenses, along with reporting lower revenues and earnings for the quarter.
Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) shares retreated just more than 1% following Wednesday’s huge 14% run-up, flamed by news that activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed the purchase of a 10% stake in the company.
After-hours news was led by LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) and Yelp (NYSE:YELP), each of whom announced earnings after the bell. LNKD was up about 6% in early after-market trading on a good report that included an 81% increase in revenues. Meanwhile, YELP was more muted, trading flat after announcing modest improvements along the top and bottom lines.
Lastly Thursday, shares of Blackberry manufacturer Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) shot up nearly 9% on no particular news.
Friday brings a slow day on the earnings front, with notables Chevron (NYSE:CVX), Ralph Lauren (NYSE:RL) and Viacom (NASDAQ:VIAB) on tap.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he was long XOM.
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