Consumer and jobs data sees equities leap

THE S&P 500 scored its best day in seven weeks yesterday as bullish consumer confidence and private-sector jobs data gave investors reason to cheer following superstorm Sandy’s devastating sweep through the US Northeast.

Technology and materials sector shares led the advance in a day of mostly average volume. About 6.7bn shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, compared with the average daily closing volume of 6.5bn for the year to date. The S&P 500 technology index rose 1.8 per cent, while the PHLX semiconductor index surged 3.3 per cent. The S&P materials index shot up two per cent.

Volume had been expected to jump after Sandy forced a historic market closure earlier in the week but traders said participation remained light to normal.

Data from payrolls processor ADP showed US companies added 158,000 workers in October – the fastest pace in eight months. In another encouraging sign, US consumer confidence jumped in October to its highest in more than four years, the Conference Board said

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 136.16 points, or 1.04 per cent, to 13,232.62 at the close. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index shot up 15.43 points, or 1.09 per cent, to finish at 1,427.59. This was the S&P 500’s biggest daily percentage gain since 13 September, when the Federal Reserve unveiled its plan for a third round of stimulus or quantitative easing, known as QE3.

The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 42.83 points, or 1.44 per cent, to close at 3,020.06.