Stocks Rally In Face of Jobs Report

The market appeared to be ready for the worse-than-expected unemployment data, with tech and financials leading the way.
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Stocks in New York opened to the upside Friday, despite a continual decimation of U.S. jobs as the promised economic stimulus and bank-relief packages appear imminent.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was rising 156 points to 8220, and the

S&P 500

tacked on 14 to 860. The

Nasdaq

was better by 30 points at 1576.

Those gains come despite a report Monday by The Department of Labor that

non farm payrolls declined 598,000, with the unemployment rate rising from 7.2% to 7.6%. Expectations were for a decline of more than 524,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 7.5%.

Among the unemployed, the number of those who lost jobs or completed temporary work increased to 7.0 million in January, having grown by 3.2 million during the last 12 months.

But, writes Tony Crescenzi, chief bond analyst at Miller Tabak, "the main theme today is the same as the past few months: the degree of preparedness for today's data was extremely high."

Continuing layoff announcements don't show any immediate relief. Indeed, cuts

announced

in January shot up 45% to 241,749 month over month, according to a report by ADP Employment Services earlier in the month.

"Obviously there will be a tremendous amount of pressure on

the Senate and Congress to pass the stimulus package," says Michael Pento, Chief Economist at Delta Global. Because job losses are a lagging economic indicator, the hope is that the economy will recover first and you'll see job losses improve, notes a bearish Pento, "But I just don't see any hope for that."

The Senate was expected to vote on the $937 billion stimulus bill Thursday night, but lawmakers

continued haggling over details pushing a potential vote to Friday.

The financial sector got a slight bump Thursday after

CNBC

reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission might be looking to suspend or restructure the so-called mark-to-market accounting rules that have punished banks' balance sheets as they struggle with the market value of distressed assets.

As to dealing with those distressed assets, on Monday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will unveil the next banking-relief package, the aid measures for the financial industry, reportedly including some answer to "bad bank" concept, among other things.

"It wouldn't shock me if you saw a rally today on the hopes of that plan," says Pento.

Checking in on earnings,

Toyota

(TM) - Get Report

swung to a third-quarter loss of $1.8 billion on a stronger yen and plummeting car sales in the U.S. and Europe. The company said it now expects to report an annual loss of 350 billion yen from a previous forecast of net income of 50 billion yen, its first fiscal-year loss since 1950.

Bellwether biotech

Biogen Idec

(BIIB) - Get Report

reported

a 3% increase in adjusted fourth- quarter earnings Friday to $274.3 million, matching Wall Street's expectations.

An interesting bit of drama, though, entered the picture, as activist investor Carl Icahn is trying to get four people appointed to Biogen's board. He previously lost his battle to get nominees on the board in spring of 2008, after unsuccessfully angling the sale of the company in the fall of 2007. Perhaps with

Pfizer's

(PFE) - Get Report

recently announced $68 billion affections for

Wyeth

(WYE)

and Roche's now-hostile bid to take over

Genentech

(DNA)

, he is getting the itch to get in on the action.

On Thursday, shares of

Amylin Pharmaceuticals

(AMLN)

got a bump on news that Icahn has increased his ownership position in the company, after making it known in January that he plans to nominate five people to

that

biotech's board.

Taking a look at commodities, crude oil was falling $1.50 to $39.67 on Friday. Gold was up by 50 cents at $914.70.

Longer-dated Treasuries were recently falling; the 10-year note was giving up 5/32 to yield 2.9%, the 30-year was dropping 11.5/32, yielding 3.7%.

The dollar was recently stronger against the pound and yen, and weaker against the euro.

Stocks overseas were trading higher. In Europe, the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were recently rising more than 1%. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng also registered gains in their session.