Wall St gains on jobs data, eyes on Greece, Fed

By Rodrigo Campos

U.S. private employers added more jobs than expected last month, while planned layoffs dropped sharply, underscoring the view the economy is on a path of slow growth.

The energy, materials and financial sectors posted the strongest gains after being badly hit in the past two days.

MasterCard Inc shares jumped 7.6 percent to $359.88 after the credit card processor reported its quarterly profit easily beat estimates on double-digit increases in volumes.

Europe was still on the front burner as Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou was to meet French and German leaders to discuss the implementation of the bailout deal for Greece. Papandreou's call for a referendum on the 130 billion euro ($178 billion) bailout package won the backing of his cabinet.

The market has discounted developments tied to the euro zone sovereign debt crisis with the declines of the last two days, according to Jim Paulsen, chief investment officer at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis.

"The later part of this week is going to be dictated by data coming from Main Street USA," he said, adding that "the market rally is also due to the fact the U.S. economy is not close to recession, and even accelerating a little bit."

The monthly U.S. Labor Dept payrolls report is due Friday, with private employment expected to have increased 120,000 and the unemployment rate unchanged at 9.1 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 173.80 points, or 1.49 percent, at 11,831.76. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 18.92 points, or 1.55 percent, at 1,237.20. The Nasdaq Composite Index put on 27.97 points, or 1.07 percent, at 2,634.93.

Papandreou's referendum call triggered a slide in global stocks earlier this week. The U.S. benchmark S&P 500 index fell 5.2 percent over the past two sessions, even as it closed its best month in 20 years on Monday.

The U.S. Federal Reserve looked set to take a breather from monetary stimulus measures, even if market turbulence heightens the chances of action later. A statement is expected at around 12:30 p.m. EDT (1630 GMT). Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold a media briefing at 2:15 p.m. EDT (1815 GMT).

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)