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Friday, November 2, 2012

US Stocks rally into November (ext.CNN)

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks started November with a strong rally Thursday, following mostly upbeat jobs reports. All three major indexes jumped more than 1%, as Wall Street continues to recover from a two-day trading suspension due to Superstorm Sandy.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 135 points, or 1%, the Nasdaq increased 1.4% and the S&P 500 jumped 1.1%.

The gains came as investors parsed through a bevy of corporate and economic news, including planned job cuts, private sector job gains and initial unemployment claims. Those numbers are all a prelude to the government's monthly jobs report , which will be released before markets open Friday.

While outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported the number of planned job cuts surged to a five-month high in October, two other reports were positive. Payroll processor ADP said U.S. private-sector employers added 158,000 jobs in October, which was above expectations, and weekly initial jobless claims fell by 9,000 to 363.000 last week, coming in lower than forecasts.

"The employment numbers look a little stronger than we were anticipating," said Kim Forrest, senior equity analyst at Fort Pitt Capital. But Forrest warned that doesn't necessarily mean the October jobs report will be stronger than expected.

"From all the chatter that we've been listening to during company earnings calls, it doesn't seem like American companies have been doing much hiring," she said. "There may be some job growth at small businesses, but even with that, I'd be surprised to see a strong employment number."

Economists surveyed by CNNMoney are expecting the economy to have added 125,000 jobs in October, up from 114,000 the prior month. They're also expecting the unemployment rate to tick up to 7.9%, from 7.8% in September.

Meanwhile, U.S. manufacturing activity continued to rebound in October, and the Conference Board's consumer confidence index rose to the highest level since February 2008. Construction spending increased in September by the most in three months, though the jump was slightly less than analysts were looking for.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar rose versus the euro, the British pound and the Japanese yen.

Oil for December delivery added 85 cents to settle at $87.09 a barrel.

Gold futures for December delivery fell $3.60 to settle at $1,715.50 an ounce.

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