US jobs data lift Wall Street overnight

Wall Street climbed as the latest US labour data underpinned the recent string of evidence that the jobs market continues its recovery, while the latest manufacturing data from the US, China and Germany suggested the world's key economies are improving.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 13,000 to 336,000 in the week ended August 17, according to Labor Department data. The four-week moving average for claims fell to the lowest level since November 2007.

"The employment numbers were encouraging and showed a continuation of slow growth in employment," Paul Mangus, head of equity strategy and research for Wells Fargo Private Bank in Charlotte, North Carolina, told Bloomberg News.

Meanwhile, Markit's preliminary index on factory activity rose to 53.9 in August, up from 53.7 in July and climbing to the highest level in five months.

"The US manufacturing sector saw only modest growth of production in August, suggesting that the economy is continuing to recover in the third quarter but that the pace of expansion remains disappointingly sluggish," Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said. "Hopefully the faster growth of new orders seen during August will translate into increasingly strong production gains in coming months, and also boost hiring."

In late afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.41 per cent, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.76 per cent. Trading on the Nasdaq was halted at about midday because of a software glitch.

Curbing the Dow's advance was a plunge in shares of Hewlett-Packard, last down 12 per cent, as the company's latest quarterly earnings as well as its outlook fell short of the mark.

"My read was that fiscal 2014 growth was a stretch goal rather than a baseline assumption," Shebly Seyrafi, an analyst at FBN Securities, told Reuters. "That has become more challenging."

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index rose 1 per cent from the previous close. The UK's FTSE 100 Index gained 0.9 per cent, France's CAC 40 advanced 1.1 per cent, while Germany's DAX climbed 1.4 per cent.

Manufacturing data from Europe and China showed reasons for optimism.

Markit's Eurozone PMI Composite Output Index posted the largest monthly increase in business activity for more than two years in August. The flash estimate rose to 51.7 in August, up from 50.5 in July.

The seasonally adjusted Markit Flash Germany Composite Output Index posting climbed to 53.4, up from 52.1 in the previous month.

"The survey provides confirmation that Germany's economy is back on a solid footing and likely to remain in expansion through the third quarter of 2013," Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit and author of the Flash Germany PMI, said. "Manufacturing was an especially bright spot in August, with the latest figures suggesting that a rebound in export orders helped output growth accelerate to its strongest for over two years."

In China, a purchasing managers' index of manufacturing from HSBC and Markit increased to 50.1 this month, up from 47.7 in July and surpassing expectations.

- BusinessDesk

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