While you were sleeping: US jobs, factory orders

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose to a fresh record after solid data on US jobs and factory orders underpinned optimism about the outlook for the world's largest economy.

US companies added 191,000 payrolls in March, according to ADP Research Institute data, while a separate Commerce Department report showed factory orders rose 1.6 percent in February, up from a revised 0.5 percent increase in January.

The company-hiring data "showed a respectable and near-expected gain, but that probably won't boost expectations for Friday's full nonfarm payrolls number," Robert Lynch, a currency strategist at HSBC Holdings in New York, told Bloomberg News.

Friday's report is expected to show nonfarm payrolls rose by 200,000 in March, the largest gain in four months, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

In afternoon trading in New York, the S&P 500 was last up 0.11 percent. Earlier it rose to a record 1,890.80. The US dollar also gained, up 0.2 percent against the yen as well as the euro.

"Whatever impact the weather was having is starting to dissipate and we are starting to see the economy gain traction," Sam Bullard, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina, told Reuters.

Still, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.03 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index inched 0.07 percent lower.

Gains in shares of Caterpillar and United Technologies, up 1.7 percent and 1.3 percent respectively, offset declines in shares of Cisco and Intel, both down 1.1 percent.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 0.2 percent increase from the previous close, as did Germany's DAX. The UK's FTSE 100 and France's CAC 40 rose 0.1 percent.

A report showed the euro zone's gross domestic product grew 0.2 percent in the last three months of 2013, below the preliminary estimate of 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde warned that the pace of the global economic recovery remained a concern.

"Certainly the global economy has stabilised since the onset of the financial crisis, but the recovery is too weak for comfort," Lagarde said in Washington. "Moreover, unless countries come together to take the right kind of policy measures, we could be facing years of slow and sub-par growth-well below the solid, sustainable growth that is needed to create enough jobs and improve living standards into the future."

"Recovery is taking hold but is too slow and it faces several obstacles along the road," Lagarde said. "Bold policy steps can overcome these obstacles and take the global economy to the next level of more rapid and sustainable growth."

Among key obstacles are geopolitical tensions, notably the Ukraine crisis, she said.

"The situation in Ukraine is one which, if not well managed, could have broader spillover implications," according to Lagarde.

(BusinessDesk)

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