US stocks end higher on jobs, manufacturing data

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, April 1, 2016. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished higher on Friday, avoiding steep declines that hit overseas equity markets, following solid US jobs and manufacturing data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 107.66 points (0.61 per cent) to 17,792.75.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 13.04 (0.63 per cent) to 2,072.78, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 44.69 (0.92 per cent) at 4,914.54.

The Labour Department said the US economy added a better-than-expected 215,000 jobs in March in a report that also showed a modest pickup in hourly wages.

Despite the good jobs figures, US stocks fell in early trade, in a move that was seen as reflecting the drag from lower overseas stock markets and a drop in oil prices.

But stocks pushed into positive territory after the Institute for Supply Management said its purchasing managers index for the manufacturing sector jumped 2.3 percentage points from February to 51.8 in March, above the threshold of 50 between growth and contraction. The data showed improving manufacturing export orders thanks to a weaker dollar.

Petroleum-linked shares dropped on lower oil prices. Dow member Chevron fell 1.2 per cent, Marathon Oil 5.2 per cent and driller Nabors Industries 3 per cent.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts shed 4.9 per cent as the bidding war over the chain ended with the consortium led by China's Anbang withdrawing a US$14 billion (S$19 billion) offer late on Thursday. That left Starwood free to merge with Marriott International, which fell 5.7 per cent.

Tesla Motors rose 3.4 per cent following a launch event of its Model 3 electric car after which founder Elon Musk said the company had received 198,000 pre-orders for the vehicle. The car is scheduled to hit the market late next year.

US automakers General Motors and Ford fell 3.1 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively. after reporting March US auto sales that were higher than in the year-ago period but below analyst expectations.

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Continental all fell sharply after Deutsche Bank warned lower corporate earnings could translate into less demand for corporate travel, hitting carriers with international routes especially hard. American lost 3.6 per cent, Delta 3.4 per cent and United 5.3 per cent.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals surged 12.4 per cent after announcing successful clinical results for its dupilumab medication to treat a serious form of the skin disease eczema.

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