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The New York Stock Exchange recorded gains over the weekend ahead of expected job figure improvements in March.
“The labour market is steadily, if slowly, strengthening,” Steven Wood, chief economist at Insight Economics in California, told Bloomberg. “Another month of 200,000-plus payroll employment in March is likely.
Previously released US Labor Department data has shown applications for unemployment benefits declined to 359,000 in the week ended March 24 – the fewest since April 2008.
US Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, told the National Association for Business Economics last week that a wide range of indicators suggested the jobs market had been improving.
“Still, conditions remain far from normal, as shown, for example, by the high level of long-term unemployment and the fact that jobs and hours worked remain well below pre-crisis peaks,” Bernanke said.
Another report due this week is expected to show an expansion in the US services industry, which makes up almost 90% of the economy.
“The underlying health of the economy is getting better,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities in Stamford, Connecticut told Bloomberg. “We’re getting to a point where some of the hurdles to getting a healthier expansion are starting to be removed.”
The S&P500 Index was up 0.37% to 1408.47.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.50% or 66.22 points to 13212.00.
The NASDAQ Index was down 0.12% to 3091.57.
The Walt Disney Company (DIS:US) lifted 1.79% to $US43.78 and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ:US) increased 1.36% to $23.83.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil increased 0.23% to $US103.02 a barrel overnight.
Gold was up 1.03% to be trading at $US1671.90 an ounce.
The Australian dollar was up over the weekend, buying $US1.0438 at 7.40am AEST on encouraging econo0mic data from the US and China.
European share markets were up at the weekend as Germany’s car makers all posted gains. Spain, which is under threat of being the next victim of the region’s debt crisis, pledged to raise taxes and slash spending to achieve 27 billion euros ($AU34.5 billion) in deficit cuts as it tries to trim its budget by one third. European officials were happy with the proposals.
“The unambiguous commitment of the Spanish government to the target of 3% fiscal deficit in 2013 is indeed of paramount importance,” European Union economic and monetary commissioner Olli Rehn said.
In Frankfurt, BMW (BMW:GY) was up 2.43% to 67.43 euros, Daimler (DAI:GY) lifted 2.13% to 45.21 euros and Volkswagen (VOW3:GY) increased 1.70% to 131.85 euro.
“The markets started the first quarter with a dash, but the finish seems to be a lumbered one as liquidity fuel dries out,” said Manish Singh, the London-based head of investment at Crossbridge Capital.
London’s FTSE 100 closed up 0.46% to 5768.45.
The German DAX was up 1.04% or 71.68 points to 6946.83.
The European Stoxx50 index was also up 1.00% to 2477.28.
Drop in western Europe
National indexes dropped in 15 of 18 western European markets last week. France’s CAC 40 Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index lost 1.5%, while Germany’s DAX Index decreased 1%.