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Stocks Push Higher Ahead of Jobs Data

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Transportation stocks helped the market book modest gains Wednesday as investors put global jitters on the backburner and looked ahead to a key jobs report and the start of earnings season.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished ahead by 56 points, or 0.4%, at 12,626. The S&P 500 gained 1 point, or 0.1%, 1339, and the Nasdaq Composite climbed up 8 points, or 0.3%, at 2834.

The gains allowed the broad market to build on last week's huge rally, which coincided with both the end of the calendar second quarter and the month of June. All three major indexes rose more than 5% last week, providing the majority of their year-to-date appreciation.

Within the transportation sector, freight carrier Arkansas Best (ABFS) climbed up 11% to $26.90 while container company Seaspan (SSW - Get Report) gained 4% to $15.58. Trucking and logistics company Con-way (CNW - Get Report) added 6% to $41.87 after restoring employee benefits.

Breadth was positive within the Dow with 19 of the blue-chip index's 30 components moving higher. DuPont (DD - Get Report), Caterpillar (CAT) and Intel (INTC) showed the strongest gains, while Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Walt Disney (DIS) were the biggest laggards.

Stocks were under selling pressure from abroad early following news that China's central bank had decided to raise key interest rates by 0.25% in an effort to rein in inflation.

Adding to global growth jitters, Moody's downgraded Portugal's government debt to junk status yesterday. Also, hopes that private bondholders might participate in Greece's bailout faded after The Wall Street Journal reported that European banks, contrary to expectations, have already sold a significant amount of Greek bonds.

International markets weakened with the FTSE in London slipping 0.4%, and the DAX in Frankfurt shedding 0.1%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 1% while Japan's Nikkei gained 1.1%.

In U.S. economic news, a slip in activity within the services sector for June was a disappointment. The Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index fell to a reading of 53.3, from May's level of 54.6. Economists had been looking for a stronger reading of 54 in June, according to Briefing.com.

Still ahead is the June employment report set for release on Friday. The Labor Department is expected to report that the economy added 80,000 jobs in June after adding only 54,000 in May. The unemployment rate is projected to remain unchanged at 9.1%, according to Briefing.com.

August gold futures gained $17 at $1,530 an ounce.

The August crude oil contract shed 24 cents to trade at $96.65 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury rose 6/32, diluting the yield to 3.101%.The greenback strengthened against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index up by 0.6%.

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SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
ABFS $38.24 -0.03%
LVB $39.95 0.00%
CNW $42.39 0.00%
DD $74.04 0.00%
MAT $28.02 0.00%

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