By Sweta Singh
(Reuters) – U.S. stocks were higher on Thursday after better-than-expected private sector hiring showed that the labor market continues to strengthen, further boosting chances of a rate hike by the Federal Reserve later this month.
The ADP private sector employment report showed that 253,000 jobs were added in May, well above the 185,000 jobs estimated by economists polled by Reuters.
The report by payrolls processor ADP acts as a precursor to the much-awaited nonfarm payrolls data, due on Friday, that includes hiring in both the public and private sectors.
“I think the Fed has already made up its mind. Unless we have a real weak employment data tomorrow I think it’s a go-ahead for the Fed to raise rates in June,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.
San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams said on Wednesday he sees a total of three interest rate increases for this year as his baseline scenario, but views four hikes as also being appropriate if the U.S. economy gets an unexpected boost.
Forecasts from Fed officials suggest that a median of two more hikes are planned before the end of the year.
Traders priced in an 89 percent chance of a rate hike in the upcoming Fed meeting on June 14, according to Thomson Reuters data.
At 9:52 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 21.5 points, or 0.1 percent, at 21,030.15, the S&P 500 was up 6.16 points, or 0.25 percent, at 2,417.96 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 26.51 points, or 0.43 percent, at 6,225.03. Seven of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with the health and technology sectors leading the gainers.
The Institute for Supply Management is likely to report that its national manufacturing index slipped to 54.5 in May from 54.8 in April. The data is expected at 10:00 ET.
“We have a multitude of macro news coming out today and that will set the tone for the market’s direction … I think we are looking at another trying session,” Cardillo said.
Deere’s shares were up 1.9 percent at $124.74 after the farm and construction major said it would buy privately held German road construction company Wirtgen Group for $5.2 billion, including debt.
Goodyear Tire’s shares were up 5.7 percent at $34.03 after Morgan Stanley raised its rating to “overweight” from “underweight”.
Box Inc was up 3.9 percent at $19.40 after the cloud storage firm’s quarterly earnings edged ahead of Wall Street analysts’ expectations.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,931 to 657. On the Nasdaq, 1,707 issues rose and 624 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 28 new 52-week highs and 11 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 82 new highs and 70 new lows.
(Reporting by Sweta Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Anil D’Silva)