Strong Run Of US Economic Data Boosts Markets


LONDON (AP) â¿¿ A run of impressive U.S. economic news combined with encouraging signals out of China to drive markets higher on Thursday, a day ahead of key jobs data that could have a bearing on the race to the White House.

Jobs data from the private payrolls firm ADP and the government's weekly jobless claims report raised hopes that Friday's official nonfarm payrolls figures for October won't disappoint.

The October manufacturing survey from the Institute for Supply Management also came in slightly better than expected, reinforcing hopes that the summer slowdown has ended.

And perhaps most encouraging, the Conference Board's measure of U.S. consumer confidence rose to a near-five-year high of 72.2 points in October, from 68.4 in September.

In combination, that helped stocks in the U.S. and Europe to power ahead.

"Positive data from the States helped channel cash into equities," said David White, a financial trader at Spreadex.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of the leading British shares was up 1.4 percent at 5,861 while Germany's DAX rose 1.3 percent to 7,354. The CAC-40 in France was 1.6 percent higher at 3,483.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 1.1 percent at 13,241 while the broader S&P 500 index rose 1 percent to 1,426.

All eyes will now turn to Friday's nonfarm payrolls figures for October. The figures, which often set the market tone for a week or two, may have an even bigger impact this month as they come just days ahead of next Tuesday's closely-fought presidential election. The consensus in the markets is that payrolls rose by around 125,000 in October and that the country's unemployment rate remained below 8 percent.

Earlier, investors had breathed a sigh of relief when surveys showed Chinese manufacturing was growing again after contracting in recent months. China's economy, the world's second-largest, has slowed this year and fears of a sharp downturn have weighed on the outlook for the global recovery.

In China, Shanghai Composite index rose over 1.7 percent, to 2,104.4, its biggest jump in three weeks, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.8 percent, to 21,821.8.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index reversed early losses to gain 0.2 percent, to 8,946.9. South Korea's Kospi was down 0.7 percent at 1,898.4.

Trading was tepid in other financial markets. The euro was flat at $1.2964, while the price of the benchmark oil contract in New York was up 46 cents at $86.70 a barrel.

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