Stock market edges higher after strong labor-market data – MarketWatch

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U.S. stocks traded slightly higher on Thursday following a positive read on private-sector employment, but gains were kept in check as investors sought further confirmation from economic reports amid equity valuations considered rich.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.10% rose 25 points, or 0.2%, at 21,032. The S&P 500 index SPX, +0.14%  was up 3 points, or 0.1%, to 2,417, trading within points of its intraday record. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.09% rose 7 points to 6,206, a rise of 0.1%. Earlier in the session, it rose as high as 6,225.67, an intraday all-time high for the tech-laden index.

All three indexes are coming off a monthly gain in May and are notably higher for 2017, with the Nasdaq up more than 15% year-to-date. The move has raised some concerns about valuation.

“Fundamentals look good, but valuations look rich, and rich valuations need better than good fundamentals, they need very good fundamentals,” said Stephen Wood, chief market strategist at Russell Investments.

The latest read on private-sector employment surged past expectations in May, coming in well above forecasts. However, weekly jobless claims rose more than expected in the latest week, hitting a five-week high. The releases painted a mixed picture about what could be expected in Friday’s highly anticipated nonfarm-payrolls report.

Read: May hiring gains to reflect warming but not sizzling economy

“The ADP number came in strong, much stronger than consensus, but there’s still some softness in the data that we’re seeing overall,” Wood said.

In other data released on Thursday, construction spending sagged in April 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 to 54.9%, about even with expectations.

Individual movers: Shares in Palo Alto Networks Inc. PANW, +16.29%  jumped 17% a day after the computer security company late Wednesday posted better-than-expected quarterly results. Cloud-based storage company Box Inc. BOX, +6.62%  popped 5.2%, briefly hitting a 52-week high intraday, after its own earnings report.

See: Free cash flow is great, and AI is next, says Box CEO

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. HPE, -5.40%  lost 5.3% after the provider of computer servers late Wednesday reported weaker-than-expected earnings.

Check out: Why HPE investors are wondering if they bet on the wrong horse in split

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc.’s OLLI, +2.25%  rose 1.6% after reporting results that beat expectations.

Cable giant Charter Communications Inc. CHTR, -0.68%  fell 1% following news that it rejected a $100 billion buyout offer from Verizon. Verizon Communications Inc. VZ, -0.51%  fell 0.3%.

Check out: MarketWatch’s Economic Calendar

On the monetary-policy front, Federal Reserve Gov. Jerome Powell said it would be appropriate for the U.S. central bank to gradually raise interest rates if the economy performs as expected. He added that might also be appropriate if the Fed begins reducing the size of its balance sheet this year.

President Donald Trump has said he would announce his decision on whether the U.S. will keep its commitments to a Paris climate accord at 3 p.m. Eastern.

See: Trump likely to pull out of Paris climate deal

Other markets: Oil futures CLN7, +0.31%  gained, but remained down for the week, after a report late Wednesday from the American Petroleum Institute showed U.S. crude supplies a more-than-expected 8.7 million barrels last week. That sparked hope the official data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration due at 11 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday also will show a drawdown in inventories.

European stocks SXXP, +0.35% were advancing, while Asia markets closed mixed. Gold futures GCQ7, -0.67%  lost ground, and a key dollar index DXY, +0.13% was slightly higher.

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