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Closing Bell: Stocks End Short Session Higher Ahead of July 4 Break

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Wall Street Stocks 604ds070313
Seth Wenig/AP
U.S. stocks ended Wednesday's shortened trading session higher as encouraging news about the nation's job market outweighed concerns about Egypt's turmoil, higher oil prices and Europe's debt crisis.

The Dow Jones industrial index (^DJI) added 56 points, more than recouping Tuesday losses, to end at 14,988, while the broader S&P 500 (^GPSC) gained a point to 1,615 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (^IXIC) rose 10 to 3,443.

Payroll processing firm ADP (ADP) said that U.S. employers added 188,000 jobs in June, more than the 155,000 forecast by economists, according to data provider FactSet. The government's weekly jobless claims report provided evidence that layoffs remain low and job gains steady. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 5,000 to 343,000, the Labor Department said.

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Another report showed that U.S. services firms grew at a slower pace in June from May but added more jobs.

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages eased this week after last week's surge, declines that could prompt homebuyers to act quickly before rates rise further. Mortgage-buyer Freddie Mac said the average on the 30-year loan dropped to 4.29%. That's down from 4.46% last week, the highest in two years and a full point more than a month ago.

Among stocks making moves Wednesday:
  • Alcoa (AA) fell 1.2%, to $7.71 after the Citigroup (C) analyst Brian Yu reduced his second-quarter and full-year profit predictions for the aluminum producer, citing low prices for the metal.
  • AutoNation (AN) gained 71 cents, or 1.6%, to $45.27 after Credit Suisse raised its rating on the stock to "outperform" from "neutral," citing a positive outlook for the company's parts and servicing business.
  • Yahoo (YHOO) rose 2.4% to $25.59 after the Internet company announced it was buying mobile-app maker Qwiki for a reported $50 million. The deal is Yahoo's third acquisition since May when it bought blogging service Tumblr for $1.1 billion in cash.
  • Boeing (BA) climbed more than 1% to $102.89 after news it delivered more planes than competitor Airbus in the first half of this year. The Chicago-based aerospace company has delivered 306 jetliners so far, including 17 787s. Boeing is playing catch-up with those deliveries because of the problems with the 787's battery earlier this year. It is aiming to deliver 60 of those planes this year.
  • Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN) fell $6.05, or 8.1%, to $68.85 adding to Tuesday's 5.7 percent slump. The Chinese government is investigating the nutritional products maker for possibly violating anti-monopoly laws in its pricing of infant formula, Bloomberg News reported yesterday.
  • Shares of Honeywell International (HON) rose nearly 1% after federal regulators gave the company go-head to resume operations at a plant that helps make nuclear fuel, following a yearlong shutdown. The plant has been closed since May 2012 after the government ordered Honeywell to make the site able to withstand natural disasters.
What to watch Thursday:
  • U.S. stock and bond markets are closed for Independence Day; trading resumes Friday.
  • On Friday, all eyes will be on the latest jobs numbers, due out from the Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. ET. The consensus view is that the report will show U.S. employers added 161,000 jobs in June and the nation's unemployment rate fell a tenth of a percentage point to 7.5%.
Compiled from staff and wire reports.

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World Stock Markets Steady as Fed, China Fears Ease

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World Stock Markets 604ds062713
AP
By Marc Jones

LONDON -- World shares and bonds stabilized Thursday while gold and the euro recovered slightly, after data suggested the U.S. Federal Reserve may leave its stimulus program in place a bit longer than markets have been thinking.

The market tone improved overnight after a surprisingly sharp downward revision to first-quarter U.S. economic growth, which calmed fears the Fed would soon wind down the huge bond-buying scheme that has underpinned investors' risk appetite.

European shares saw their first session of relative quiet in a week. They consolidated the 3.2 percent recovery they have enjoyed over the last two days after last week's 11 percent dive in response to the Fed's signal on cutting stimulus.

A 0.4 percent rise on London's FTSE 100 outshone broadly flat markets in Paris and Frankfurt, and left Asia's earlier rises as the main driver for the third day of gains for MSCI's world share index.
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"Whenever there is good news out of the U.S. it will cause selling because people see it as a confirmation for Fed tapering, while if we have something more disappointing like yesterday people will say, 'Well, OK, it won't happen yet,' " said Tobias Blattner, an economist at Daiwa Securities.

"That, unfortunately, is the kind of volatility that is going to continue for the next couple of months."
With the rise in benchmark 10-year U.S. government debt appearing to have come to a halt at around 2.4 percent, eurozone bonds from Germany to Greece were able to claw back some of the ground they have lost during the recent global selloff.

Reflecting the rise in yields generally over the last few weeks, Italy paid its highest rate since March at a €5 billion auction of 10- and 5- year debt, but healthy demand at the sale meant there was little to unnerve markets.

Hammered Metals

After the drama of recent days, there was some respite for precious metals although analysts expected it to be temporary.

Spot gold rose 1 percent to $1,235 an ounce, after a 4 percent fall on Wednesday that took the metal to $1,221.80, its lowest since August 2010. Silver, which sank 5.5 percent in the previous session, gained about 2 percent.

In a note to clients, analysts at ABN Amro lowered their end-of-year forecast for gold $200 to $1,100 and said this year's 25 percent drop in gold and near 40 percent plunge in silver prices showed that "investors are losing faith in precious metals."

The easing concerns about a pullback in U.S. stimulus helped oil climb above $102 while in the currency market, mixed eurozone data saw the euro wobble, leaving it at $1.3014, having earlier pulled away from a three-week low against the dollar.

ECB policymakers have been out in force in recent days saying that unlike the Fed, they remain ready to cut rates if needed. Data from the central bank Thursday explained some of those concerns. Lending to eurozone firms contracted further in May as the bloc's long-running recession continued to sap appetite for investment and spending.

But at the same time there was a small pick-up in this month's European Commission consumer and business confidence survey, Germany saw unemployment ease while a data revision meant eurozone neighbor Britain didn't suffer a recent "double-dip" recession after all.

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