MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Close At Record On Back Of Robust Labor-market Data

By Sue Chang, MarketWatch , Ryan Vlastelica Features Dow Jones Newswires

Palo Alto Networks, Box, HPE move on earnings

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All three main stock indexes closed at records Thursday as a strong read on private-sector employment helped to bolster confidence in the economy ahead of Friday's closely watched jobs report.

The S&P 500 index gained 18.26 points, or 0.8%, to finish at 2,430.06. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 135.53 points, or 0.7%, to end at 21,144.18, and the Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 48.31 points, or 0.8%, to close at 6,246.83.

"I can't predict the future but this is not a bad environment we are in. The Fed is going to raise rates but they are going to do it in a way to encourage growth. Earnings expectations are rising and the economy is rising," said John Manley, chief equity strategist at Wells Fargo Funds.

Private-sector employment surged past expectations in May (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/private-sector-job-growth-rebounds-to-rip-roaring-pace-in-may-adp-says-2017-06-01), coming in well above forecasts. However, weekly jobless claims rose more than projected in the latest week (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobless-claims-climb-to-5-week-high-of-248000-2017-06-01), hitting a five-week high. The releases painted a mixed picture about what could be expected in Friday's nonfarm-payrolls report.

Read:May hiring gains to reflect warming but not sizzling economy (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-economy-seems-frozen-in-time-but-underneath-the-ice-the-water-is-warming-2017-05-28)

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"The good macro news is helping and the market is looking forward to tomorrow's jobs data," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release nonfarm payrolls for May on Friday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch forecast 185,000 new jobs last month.

"A strong number won't be a handicap and if the number comes in above the estimate, the rally will continue," Cardillo said.

In other data released Thursday, construction spending sagged in April (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/construction-spending-eases-in-april-after-robust-start-to-the-year-2017-06-01) as a strong start to the year started to falter. However, the Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index edged up a 10th of a point (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-manufacturing-kept-strength-in-may-ism-survey-finds-2017-06-01) to 54.9%, about even with expectations.

President Donald Trump's announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate accord (http://blogs.marketwatch.com/capitolreport/2017/06/01/president-trump-announces-paris-climate-accord-decision-live-blog-and-video/) did not have a direct impact on stocks despite vocal opposition from high-profile corporate leaders.

(https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/870369915894546432)

Individual movers:Auto sales for May were mixed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gm-may-sales-decline-but-ford-posts-surprise-gain-2017-06-01-124855623) with Ford Motor Co.(F) reporting higher sales while sales at General Motors Co.(GM) fell. Ford shares added 2.6% and GM shares rose 1.5%.

Shares in Palo Alto Networks Inc.(PANW) jumped 17% a day after the computer security company posted better-than-expected quarterly results (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/palo-alto-networks-surge-10-on-earnings-beat-outlook-2017-05-31).

Cloud-based storage company Box Inc.(BOX) popped 9.5%, briefly hitting a 52-week high intraday, after its own earnings report (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/box-beats-and-raises-guidance-stock-jumps-6-2017-05-31).

See:Free cash flow is great, and AI is next, says Box CEO (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/box-ceo-aaron-levie-free-cash-flow-is-great-artificial-intelligence-is-next-2017-05-31)

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co.(HPE) lost 6.9% after the provider of computer servers late Wednesday reported weaker-than-expected earnings (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hewlett-packard-enterprise-shares-slide-on-weaker-than-expected-earnings-2017-05-31).

Check out:Why HPE investors are wondering if they bet on the wrong horse in split (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hpe-investors-wondering-if-they-bet-on-the-wrong-horse-in-split-2017-05-31)

Ollie's Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc.'s (OLLI) rose 6.1% after reporting results that beat expectations (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ollies-bargain-beats-fiscal-q1-sales-earnings-expectations-2017-05-31).

Vera Bradley Inc.(VRA) shares fell 7.1% after the retailer swung to a quarterly loss (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/vera-bradley-sales-miss-estimates-2017-05-31).

Express Inc. (EXPR) tanked 19% after the clothing chain missed first-quarter earnings and revenue estimates (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/express-stock-drops-14-after-first-quarter-profit-revenue-misses-disappointing-2017-guidance-2017-06-01).

On the monetary-policy front, Federal Reserve Gov. Jerome Powell said it would be appropriate (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/feds-powell-balance-sheet-may-eventually-be-halved-from-current-levels-2017-06-01) for the U.S. central bank to gradually raise interest rates if the economy performs as expected. He added that it might also be appropriate if the Fed begins reducing the size of its balance sheet this year.

Other markets: Oil futures settled flat after a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed that domestic crude supplies fell by 6.4 million barrels for the week ended May 26, marking an eighth weekly drop in a row.

European stocks rose, while Asia markets closed mixed. Gold futures closed lower and a key dollar index was mostly unchanged.

--Victor Reklaitis contributed to this article.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 01, 2017 16:38 ET (20:38 GMT)