Wall St rallies; S&P 500 posts best day since August

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Oct 3, 2014. The S&P 500 posted its best day since August on Friday following a stronger-than-expected September US jobs report that bolstered the outlook for the US economy. -- PHOTO:
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Oct 3, 2014. The S&P 500 posted its best day since August on Friday following a stronger-than-expected September US jobs report that bolstered the outlook for the US economy. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The S&P 500 posted its best day since August on Friday following a stronger-than-expected September US jobs report that bolstered the outlook for the US economy.

Despite the rally, however, major indexes ended down for the week, with the first diagnosis of Ebola in a patient in the United States and protests in Hong Kong among the main catalysts for sharp selling earlier in the week.

The Labour Department reported that US nonfarm payrolls rose by 248,000 last month and the jobless rate fell two-tenths of a point to 5.9 per cent.

"There were a number of fears in the market, and the market had been giving up a lot of its gains. I think the jobs report took away a lot of the near-term concerns about the pace of the US economy's (growth), and short-covering helped," said Robbert Van Batenburg, director of market strategy at Newedge USA LLC in New York.

All 10 S&P sectors ended in positive territory, though the S&P energy index was the day's weakest and ended barely higher following further declines in oil prices . The energy index was down 3.8 per cent for the week.

Financial and health-care shares were among the day's biggest positives. The Dow Jones transportation average also rallied, ending up 2.1 per cent, its biggest daily percentage gain since March, as airline stocks jumped. Shares of Delta Air Lines rose 4.7 per cent to US$36.95.

The Russell 2000 index rose 0.8 per cent, but was down 1.3 per cent for the week, its fifth straight week of losses.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 208.64 points, or 1.24 per cent, to 17,009.69, the S&P 500 gained 21.73 points, or 1.12 per cent, to 1,967.9 and the Nasdaq Composite added 45.43 points, or 1.03 per cent, to 4,475.62.

For the week, the Dow was down 0.6 per cent, the S&P 500 was down 0.8 per cent and the Nasdaq was down 0.8 per cent.

The largest percentage gainer on the New York Stock Exchange was Zendesk INC, which rose 16.93 per cent to US$25.55, while the largest percentage decliner was Cliffs Natural Resources, down 16.80 per cent at US$8.32.

Among the most active stocks on the NYSE were Rite Aid , up 0.80 per cent at US$5.03 and Brazil's Petrobras , up 4.33 per cent to US$13.97.

On the Nasdaq, Apple, down 0.3 per cent to US$99.62, and Yahoo, up 1.3 per cent at US$41.03, were among the most actively traded.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,067 to 989, for a 2.09-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,776 issues rose and 895 fell for a 1.98-to-1 ratio also favoring advancers.

The benchmark S&P 500 index posted 14 new 52-week highs and five new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 36 new highs and 54 new lows.

About 6.5 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, compared with the seven billion average for the last five sessions, according to data from BATS Global Markets.