Updated March 30 at 11:45am

U.S. stocks advance as market reopens after Hurricane Sandy


NEW YORK - U.S. stocks advanced as equity markets in the world’s largest economy reopened after Hurricane Sandy caused the longest weather-related shutdown since 1888.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index increased 0.1 percent from Friday’s close to 1,413.83 at 9:31 a.m. in New York. The benchmark gauge has declined 2 percent in October after four straight months of gains.

“Investors are braced for an exceptionally busy open, as three days of trading are combined into one,” Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Plc in London, wrote in an e-mail. “There is the additional feature of some likely window-dressing business, given today being the last trading day of the month and the end of the year for many mutual funds. There has been some encouraging economic data in the form of house prices.”

American equity markets were closed Oct. 29 and yesterday, the first consecutive shutdowns because of weather in more than a century. The decision to open U.S. markets was announced in statements by NYSE Euronext, Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. and Bats Global Markets Inc.

Backup power

Internet and mobile-phone connections were limited on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as U.S. equity markets prepared to open after the longest weather-related shutdown in more than a century. The NYSE’s headquarters are running on backup power and will keep using it if necessary all week, Larry Leibowitz, the chief operating officer, said in a phone interview.

Data yesterday showed the S&P/Case-Shiller Index of property values in 20 cities rose 2 percent in August from a year earlier, after a 1.2 percent advance in July. The average estimate by economists in a Bloomberg survey had called for a 1.9 percent increase.

A report today may reveal business activity in the U.S. expanded in October. The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc.’s business barometer rose to 51 from 49.7 last month, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 54 economists. A reading of 50 is the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

Economic data

The Labor Department is striving to issue its monthly report on employment on Nov. 2 as scheduled, a spokesman said yesterday. Payrolls increased by 125,000 workers in October and the jobless rate rose to 7.9 percent, according to the median forecasts of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

The jobs report is the last before the Nov. 6 presidential election, and may help sway voters trying to decide between giving President Barack Obama another four years in office or to change course with Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Investors are also watching corporate results. Some 24 companies in the S&P 500 are due to report earnings today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Profit has exceeded projections at 72 percent of companies to have released third- quarter results, while sales trailed estimates at 60 percent of firms, Bloomberg data show.

Hurricane Sandy may reduce economic output by $25 billion in the fourth quarter, according to Gregory Daco, a U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts. That could lower the fourth-quarter pace of growth to between 1 percent and 1.5 percent, from an estimate of 1.6 percent, he said.


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