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Stock Market Update for 05/06/2011

May 6, 2011

stock market updateWith traders reacting positively to the monthly jobs report, stocks moved sharply higher at the start of trading on Friday. The major averages all showed notable moves back to the upside after trending lower in the past few sessions.

The initial strength in the markets came following the release of a report from the Labor Department showing stronger than expected job growth in the month of April, although the report also showed an unexpected increase in the unemployment rate.

The report showed that non-farm payroll employment increased by 244,000 jobs in April following an upwardly revised increase of 221,000 jobs in March. Economists had expected employment to increase by about 185,000 jobs.

The stronger than expected job growth in April came as a notable increase in private sector jobs more than offset a modest decrease in government jobs.

At the same time, the Labor Department said that the unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 9.0 percent in April from 8.8 percent in March. The unemployment rate had been expected to remain unchanged.

Paul Ashworth, Chief U.S. Economist at Capital Economics, said, “Overall, very encouraging, although the rebound in the unemployment rate underlines how far we still have to go.”

On the earnings front, food giant Kraft Foods (KFT) reported first quarter earnings that fell to $0.45 per share from $1.16 per share in the year-ago quarter, with the drop reflecting acquisition-related costs. The company reported adjusted earnings of $0.52 per share compared to estimates for $0.46 per share.

Looking ahead, Kraft forecast full year-year earnings of at least $2.20 per share compared to its previous estimate for earnings of at least $2.24 per share, with the lower guidance reflecting the end of a contract to distribute Starbucks (SBUX) coffee.

After falling sharply in recent sessions, gold stocks are turning in some of the market’s best performances in early trading. The NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index has surged up by 2.1 percent after ending the previous session at its lowest closing level in well over a month.

Health insurance, steel, and energy stocks are also seeing early strength, moving to the upside along with most of the major sectors.

The major averages have seen some further upside in the past few minutes, reaching new highs for the session. The Dow is currently up 150.76 points or 1.2 percent at 12,734.93, the Nasdaq is up 33.62 points or 1.2 percent at 2,848.34 and the S&P 500 is up 16.92 points or 1.3 percent at 1,352.02.

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