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Stocks Seeing Modest Strength, Dow Reaches New Record High - U.S. Commentary


Stocks have moved modestly higher in early trading on Wednesday, adding to the strong gains posted in the previous session. The major averages have all moved to the upside, with the Dow reaching a new record intraday high.

While the Nasdaq briefly turned negative, the major averages are currently all in positive territory. The Dow is up 45.81 points or 0.3 percent at 14,299.58, the Nasdaq is up 2.39 points or 0.1 percent at 3,226.52 and the S&P 500 is up 3.68 points or 0.2 percent at 1,543.47.

The continued strength on Wall Street comes on the heels of the release of a report from payroll processor Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) showing that private sector employment increased by more than expected in the month of February.

ADP said private sector employment increased by 198,000 jobs in February following an upwardly revised increase of 215,000 jobs in January.

Economists had expected the private sector to add about 173,000 jobs compared to the addition of 192,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, said, "The job market remains sturdy in the face of significant fiscal headwinds."

"Businesses are adding to payrolls more strongly at the start of 2013 with gains across all industries and business sizes," he added. "Tax increases and government spending cuts don't appear to be affecting the job market."

The report has generated some optimism about Friday's release of the Labor Department's monthly employment report, which includes both private and public sector jobs.

Later in the day, the Federal Reserve is due to release its Beige Book, a compilation of anecdotal evidence on economic conditions from each of the twelve Fed districts.

The Beige Book is typically released about two weeks before the next Federal Open Market Committee meeting and could shed some light on the outlook for monetary policy.

Banking, housing, and chemical stocks have moved to the upside in early trading, although buying interest remains relatively subdued. Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved higher on Wednesday on the heels of the overnight rally on Wall Street. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 2.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced by 1 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index has jumped by 1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index are up by 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have come under pressure, extending the downward move seen over the past few sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 3.7 basis points at 1.931 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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