U.S. stocks rose for a third day as faster-than-forecast growth in jobs overshadowed concern about budget negotiations and a slide in Apple Inc. Treasuries dropped, while the euro fell on concern about German growth.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 0.1 percent at 1,415.5 at 3:17 p.m. in New York after climbing as much as 0.5 percent in the opening minutes. The yield on 10-year Treasuries increased four basis points to 1.62 percent. The euro slid 0.4 percent to $1.2924 after the Bundesbank lowered its 2013 projection for German economic growth to 0.4 percent from the 1.6 percent predicted in June. Oil lost 0.4 percent to $85.93 a barrel in a fourth straight decline.
Equities opened higher after the Labor Department said U.S. employment increased by 146,000 in November and the jobless rate fell to an almost four-year low, easing concern that superstorm Sandy reduced hiring. Stocks pared gains as a gauge of consumer confidence trailed forecasts and House Speaker John Boehner said no progress had been made in talks to avert the “fiscal cliff” of automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect next year.
“There is a lot of confusion and there are a lot cross currents here to consider,” Terry L. Morris, who helps oversee about $2.5 billion at Wyomissing, Pennsylvania-based National Penn Investors Trust Co., said in a phone interview. “Unemployment has improved, yet confidence has deteriorated. How do you explain the market isn’t doing anything when Boehner comes out and says we’re nowhere? It seems like the market should have been going down, but the fact it’s not tells me that the market wants to go higher.”
Apple, the largest company by market value, lost 2.4 percent and was the biggest drag on the S&P 500. Financial, commodity and consumer shares led gains among the 10 main industries in the S&P 500 while telephone, utility and technology shares fell. JPMorgan Chase & Co., Caterpillar Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. paced gains that sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average up about 56 points.
The median estimate of 91 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a gain of 85,000 jobs. Sandy “did not substantively impact” the data, the agency said. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008, as size of the labor force shrank.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of U.S. consumer sentiment for December fell to 74.5 from 82.7 a month earlier. Economists projected 82 for the gauge, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Projections of the 67 economists surveyed ranged from 80 to 88.