Wall St up as tepid jobs growth stays Fed hand

US stocks rose and Treasury bond yields fell after figures showed the world's biggest economy added fewer jobs than expected last month, giving the Federal Reserve no new reason to quickly end stimulus programme.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 148,000 workers last month, according to the Labor Department. That missed economist expectations of 180,000 gain and followed a revised 193,000 gain in August. The unemployment rate fell to 7.2 per cent, the lowest level since November 2008.

Investors are watching key data for clues to the timing of the end of the Federal Reserve's US$85 billion a month of bond buying, amid expectations the federal budget shutdown risks taking more steam out of the economy. The jobs data was delayed two weeks because of the shutdown.

"The numbers indicate that the economy is growing at a modest pace at best," Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University Channel Islands, told Reuters. "Considering the uncertainties from the government shutdown, tapering (of the Fed's bond purchases) has been postponed until further notice."

With the prospect of fed stimulus remaining for longer, stocks rose. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.5 per cent to 15,462,67 and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.5 per cent to 1752.56.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasuries fell 9 basis points to 2.51 per cent, the lowest since July 24.

"Yields aren't headed higher, certainly, in the face of this report," Bill Gross, who manages the world's biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management, told Bloomberg Radio. "We will grudgingly go lower from this point. We probably won't be tapering anytime soon."

The US dollar weakened to $1.3785 per euro, and earlier reached $1.3789, the weakest since November 2011, and was at 98.07 yen. The Dollar Index fell to 79.209.

Gold futures for December delivery rose to as much as US$1,337.90, a three-week high for the most active contract.

Whirlpool, the world's largest appliance maker, led gainers on the S&P 500 after lifting its earnings forecast for this year to as much as US$10.10 a share, exceeding analyst estimates.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold rose 3.9 per cent to US$36.42 after the largest US mining company posted third-quarter earnings that beat estimates.

The US earnings season is providing some signals the US economy hasn't fallen in a hole. Earnings at 131 companies that have reported so far have grown 5.5 per cent and sales by 2.2 per cent, according to Bloomberg. Some 73 per cent of the companies have topped analysts' profit estimates.

Apple shares fell 0.5 per cent to US$518.72 after chief executive Officer Tim Cook unveiled the first updated iPads in a year, including a new, high-definition iPad mini and a slimmer iPad called the iPad Air.

- BusinessDesk

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