US STOCKS-Wall St up after payrolls, but on track for down week

Fri Oct 3, 2014 9:52am EDT
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By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK Oct 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were higher on Friday after the September jobs report came in ahead of expectations, though major indexes remained on track for a second straight weekly decline.

The day's gains were broad, with nine of the 10 primary S&P 500 sectors rising on the day, led by healthcare and financial names. The only declining group, utilities, down 0.3 percent, is considered a defensive play.

The non-farm payroll report showed 248,000 jobs added in the month, considerably more than the 215,000 that had been expected. August's number was revised up to 180,000 from 142,000. The report eased concerns about the pace of economic growth, and was also not seen as so strong that it would influence the Federal Reserve's consideration of how soon to raise interest rates.

Equities have been volatile of late, with recent trading largely driven by the first diagnosis of a patient with Ebola in the United States. Major indexes have seen sharp intraday swings, with the S&P 500 seeing larger-than-average daily point moves every day this week.

"We're looking at a pretty sound fundamental picture, which has us tilted towards the upside, but that doesn't preclude any sharp pullback," said Katrina Lamb, head of investment strategy and research at MV Financial in Bethesda, who added that any pullback would likely be short.

Despite the declines this week, investors have continued a trend of buying on dips. After falling as much as 2.9 percent this week, at one point dropping under its 150-day moving average - a level it had not breached since November 2012 - the S&P has recovered much of those losses and is now down 1.4 percent.

The Dow is down 1.3 percent for the week while the Nasdaq is down 1.4 percent. It is the second straight weekly decline for all three indexes.

The Dow Jones industrial average was rising 91.46 points, or 0.54 percent, to 16,892.51, the S&P 500 was gaining 9.85 points, or 0.51 percent, to 1,956.02 and the Nasdaq Composite was adding 24.00 points, or 0.54 percent, to 4,454.20.

Advancing issues were outnumbering declining ones on the NYSE by 1,885 to 890, for a 2.12-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,737 issues were rising and 519 falling for a 3.35-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 6 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 12 new highs and 13 new lows. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)