NEW YORK (
) - Stocks, the dollar and commodities rose Wednesday, while treasuries sold off, as better-than-expected reports on jobs and the service industry boosted recovery expectations.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
stayed perfect in 2011, rising for a fourth consecutive session. The blue-chip index tacked on 32 points, or 0.3%, to close at 11,723, finishing just 20 points below its peak for the day. The
added 6 points or 0.5%, to close at 1276 and the
jumped 21 points, or 0.8%, to settle at 2702.
Financials led stocks higher with
Bank of America
among the biggest percentage gainers in the Dow, which saw 18 of its 30 components move higher.
was another notable performer on the Dow, gaining 2.6% to $39.99 on a
host of analyst upgrades .
were among the Dow's worst performers.
The dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies with the dollar index up by 1%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note weakened 1 5/32, lifting the yield to 3.481%.
Commodities bounced off early lows with the February crude oil contract rising 1% to settle at $90.30 a barrel after the Energy Department reported a greater than expected drawdown in crude oil inventories. The February gold contract shed $5.1 to $1373.7 an ounce.
The New York Stock Exchange saw volume of 555 million while 1.3 billion changed hands on the Nasdaq. Overall market breadth was slightly weighted to the positive with 54% of stocks on the NYSE advancing and 44% trading lower.
The latest jobs data from
Automatic Data Processing
fueled investor optimism ahead of the Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls report on Friday. Also, Republican John Boehner took over as speaker of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, raising hopes for a more business-friendly Congress.
ADP's employment change report showed that the
private sector added 297,000 jobs in December, which was more than double the increase of 100,000 positions that economists had expected. In November, the ADP report showed growth of 92,000.
In addition, outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas said layoffs for the month fell to their lowest level since 1997 as job cuts of 32,004 in December represented a decline of 34% from November and a drop of 29% from the same month a year ago.
"There has been anecdotal evidence that companies are starting to hire," says T.C. Robillard, a managing director at Signal Hill Capital who covers temporary staffing companies. "There is no uncertainty on Congress and about taxes. That has got companies feeling better."
Robillard says investors should take the month-to-month volatility in the jobs numbers with a grain of salt and instead focus on the overall trend. " The focal point is going to be consistency in net positive job creation. Once we start to get to the second half, we can look at absolute numbers."
Despite the latest data, economists remain cautious in their estimate for Friday, as the ADP report has often diverged significantly from the Labor Department's estimates. The Labor Department is expected to say that the economy added 135,000 jobs in December, led by private sector job growth of 145,000, and that the unemployment rate ticked down to 9.7%, from 9.8%, according to
On Thursday, the market will get jobless claims data for the week ended Jan. 1. Wall Street is expecting initial claims to rise to 405,000, from 388,000, previously, according to
The view of services sector got a boost as the
Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing survey rose to a reading of 57.1 in December. The level outpaced the reading of 55.7 that Wall Street had been projecting, according to
. In November, the ISM said services activity came in at 55.
In corporate news, shares of
surged 7.3% to $60.95 on reports that it had been offered nearly $3 billion for its Taiwan insurance unit since it put the unit on the block in September.
Tech M&A was back in focus as
for $45 per share, or an enterprise value of $3.1 billion. Shares of Atheros were up by 1.4% to $44.64 and Qualcomm's stock gained 2% to $52.03.
were up 7% to $41.24 after
Goldman Sachs upgraded the software company to buy from neutral while
stock was ticking up to $16.50 despite a downgrade to hold from buy at Citigroup.
Family Dollar Stores
saw its stock slump 8.7% to $44.99 after it reported
first-quarter net earnings of 58 cents per share on sales of $1.99 billion. Analysts had been expecting a per-share profit of 61 cents on sales of $1.98 billion.
were up 2.8% to $77.13 after the
crop nutrients company beat second-quarter profit expectations late Thursday and said 2011 market conditions appear strong.
jumped 8.7% to $11.65 on an upgrade to overweight from Barclays Capital.
also saw its shares rise by 7.6% to $16.98 on an upgrade to overweight from Barclays Capital.
was in the news on a
were making bids on the company. Shares were up 2.3% at $44.04.
was the NYSE's top gainer, up 59% to $1.15 per share while biopharmaceutical company
topped the Nasdaq, moving 54% higher to $2.40 after the company said it received positive feedback from the Food and Drug Administration regarding its development program for a multiple sclerosis therapy called Tovaxin.
Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.4% while Japan's Nikkei declined 0.2%. London's FTSE added 0.5% while the DAX in Frankfurt lost 0.5%.
--Written by Melinda Peer and Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.