Things are looking up for stock investors. All the major stock indexes posted their biggest gains of the year yesterday after the government said fewer people applied for jobless benefits last week. The Dow jumped 188 points, or 1.2 percent, to close at 15,628. The S&P 500 rose nearly 22 points, also 1.2 percent, to 1,773. The Nasdaq gained 45 points, or 1.1 percent, to 4,057. Futures point to gains at this morning's opening.
- KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - International stock markets were higher today in anticipation of a positive U.S. jobs report for January. Evidence of healthy U.S. job growth would suggest that the world's biggest economy is still expanding solidly enough to support global growth. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell just below $97.50. The dollar inched upward against the euro and the yen.
- A government report saying fewer people applied for unemployment last week, combined with a private survey that showed solid U.S. hiring in January are apparently bolstering investors' confidence that today's January jobs report will be positive. Also this afternoon, the Federal Reserve will release December's consumer credit data.
- Economists surveyed by FactSet are predicting a job creation rebound today when the Labor Department announces January employment statistics. The economists say 170,000 jobs were added, compared to only 74,000 in December. The 6.7 percent jobless rate is expected to stay the same.
- When President Barack Obama heads to Michigan State University to sign the farm bill today, he'll be bringing a new initiative with him that he hopes will help boost exports. Obama plans to announce the "Made in Rural America" initiative, coupling the bill signing with the announcement of a program to connect rural businesses with federal resources that can help sell their products and services abroad.