The trading week in the U.S. ended on a celebratory note ahead of the Fourth of July long weekend, with both the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 index gaining more than 5 per cent for the five-day period. Volume was light today, though, which tends to exaggerate moves.
Both major indexes have posted gains each day this week, a winning streak buoyed by an easing of concerns over a Greek debt default and widely held beliefs the U.S. economy will grow more solidly in the second half of this year.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 168 points, or 1.36 per cent, at 12,582. The S&P 500 Index was up 19 points, or 1.44 per cent, at 1,339.67. The Nasdaq composite index was up 42.51 points, or 1.53 percent, at 2,816.03.
The main catalyst to today's gains was a stronger-than-expected reading on June manufacturing from the Institute for Supply Management, which followed a particularly weak reading in May because of shortages resulting from the Japanese crisis.
But as pointed out earlier, some of the details of the report weren't all that encouraging, and the day's other economic releases weren't really all that hot at all.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey deteriorated in June, falling to a reading of 71.5 from 74.3 in May. U.S. construction spending fell 0.6 per cent in May from a revised 0.6 per cent drop in April.
And while the major U.S. auto dealers reported sharp year-over-year gains in sales last month, GM and Ford both failed to meet analyst expectations for the month - and GM tempered its full-year forecast for the industry. The bottom line, as hinted in the consumer sentiment survey, is that Americans are still reluctant to open their wallets amid the fragile economic recovery.
Key to that recovery will be a pick up in employment, and next Friday's jobs report will be anxiously anticipated. The consensus forecast is for job gains of 90,000, a still relatively soft number that underscores the economy is moving too slowly to get Americans back to work in a hurry. We'll get Canadian jobs data as well next Friday; economists expect Canadian job gains of 15,000.
Commodity markets were generally soft Friday. U.S crude fell 48 cents to settle at $94.94 a barrel, recovering from an earlier low of $93.45 that was sparked by disappointing economic data out of China. Front-month crude is still up 4.15 per cent for the week.
U.S. gold futures for August delivery fell $20.20 to end at $1,482.60 an ounce.