Updated March 24 at 12:29am
economic indicators

Stock futures advance as employment growth tops forecasts


NEW YORK - U.S. stock futures rose, following the biggest two-day gain in 2012 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as government data showing the economy added more jobs than forecast last month bolstered optimism in the economy.

Bank of America Corp., Halliburton Co. and Boeing Co. added at least 0.6 percent to pace gains among the biggest companies. Starbucks Corp., the biggest coffee-shop operator, rallied 3.6 percent on plans to introduce a new single-cup brewer. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. tumbled 14 percent. Texas Instruments Inc., the largest maker of analog semiconductors, fell 1.1 percent after cutting sales and profit forecasts.

S&P 500 futures expiring in June added 0.2 percent to 1,363.80 at 8:51 a.m. Eastern time. The index rose 1.7 percent in the past two days. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures gained 31 points, or 0.2 percent, to 12,875.

“We can sit back because the U.S. is not going into a recession even though Europe is in a recession,” Stephen Wood, the New York-based chief market strategist for Russell Investments, said in a telephone interview. His firm oversees $137.6 billion. “These jobs numbers are not fantastic, but they are consistent with that slow, non-recessionary economic growth forecast.”

The 227,000 increase in payrolls followed a revised 284,000 gain in January that was bigger than first estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington, D.C. The median projection of economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for a 210,000 rise in February employment. The jobless rate held at 8.3 percent.

Rescue package

Investors also watched developments in Europe’s attempts to tame its debt crisis. Greece pushed through the biggest sovereign restructuring in history after cajoling private investors to forgive more than 100 billion euros ($132 billion) of debt, opening the way for a second rescue package.

Today is the third year of the anniversary of the 2009 bear-market low for the S&P 500. The benchmark gauge has risen 102 percent since closing at 676.53 on March 9, 2009, on speculation the economy would recover from the worst contraction since the Great Depression. The index is up 8.6 percent in 2012.


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