Payroll data has almost no affect on stocks

U.S. stocks were little changed, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (CME:SPM14) reached an all-time high, as data showed companies added to payrolls last month.

Intuitive Surgical Inc. rose 2.7 percent after JMP Securities LLC upgraded the stock’s rating. MannKind Corp. jumped 79 percent after its inhaled treatment for diabetes won the recommendation of a U.S. advisory panel. Apollo Education Group Inc. slipped 6.7 percent after it received a subpoena from the Education Department for marketing and recruitment records.

The S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent to 1,887.41 at 10:25 a.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 7.06 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 16,539.67. The gauge ended yesterday 44 points below its record closing level set Dec. 31. Trading in S&P 500 stocks was in line with the 30-day average at this time of day.

“The positive tone from yesterday is most likely to continue into the jobs report, absent some big macro piece of data that comes out between now and then,” Michael James, a Los Angeles-based managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities Inc., said in a phone interview. “Longer-term investors are still of the opinion that the U.S. equity market remains one of the best places to be invested for this year.”

The S&P 500 rose 0.7 percent yesterday to cap a third day of gains, the longest streak since February, as consumer and technology stocks pushed the gauge to a record and an index of manufacturing boosted optimism the economy withstood severe winter weather.

Equities Valuation

The equities benchmark trades at 17.4 times reported earnings, the highest level since 2010 and 11 percent above its five-year average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Data today showed February factory goods orders rose 1.6 percent, topping an estimated advance of 1.2 percent.

A separate report indicated companies in the U.S. boosted payrolls by 191,000 in March, according to figures from the ADP Research Institute in Roseland, New Jersey. The median forecast of 38 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 195,000 advance.

The government’s monthly jobs report for March is due April 4.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said last week that “considerable slack” in the labor market is evidence that the central bank’s unprecedented accommodation will be needed for “some time” to put Americans back to work.

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