The stock markets in the United States continue to rally as forecasts on economic data demonstrate improvements. Based on data compiled by Bloomberg, economists project that the unemployment rate will remain at 7.4%. Economists estimated that U.S. employers added 180,000 jobs in August. The Department of Labor is scheduled to release its jobs report tomorrow.

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ADP Research reported today that companies in the United States added 176,000 jobs last month. A separate report showed that the number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits declined last week.

Data from the Institute for Supply Management indicated that the non-manufacturing index increased from 56 to 58.6 in August. The figure is higher than the 55 median forecast of economists.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Tim Holland, partner and portfolio manager at Tamro Capital Partners, commented that the economic data are “reasonably robust.” According to Holland, “The $64,000 question the past three months is ‘can the world sustain higher rates?’ In my mind, higher rates that go hand in hand with better economic growth are not anything to be scared of.”

On the other hand, Steven Bulko, chief investment officer of Lombard,  said, “We are definitely starting to see incremental gains in the U.S. economy, which will provide positive data that hopefully mitigates some of the negative, short-term headwinds.”

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)- 14,937 (+0.27%)
  • S&P 500- 1,655 (+0.12%)
  • NASDAQ- 3,658 (+0.27%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,030 (+0.46%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 2,774 (+0.56%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,532 (+0.89%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 8,234 (+0.48%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 14, 064 (+0.08%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 22, 597 (+1.22%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2, 341 (-0.38%)

Stocks In Focus

The stock value of Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) rose by more than 3% to $10.67 per share after Morgan Stanley upgraded its rating for the stock to overweight or buy. According to the research firm, the introduction of deal bank and strength in mobile device helped the company’s turnaround in North America. Morgan Stanley is convinced that Groupon will be able to do the same in Africa, Middle East, and Europe.

Fastenal Company (NASDAQ:FAST) surged by 6% to $48.60 per share after reporting that its daily sales increased by 7.2% last month. The maker of construction and industrial fasteners said its total sales in August were $297.7 million.

The stock price of J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) reached as high as $14.52 per share today on reports that its CEO Mike Ullman decided to stop selling Martha Stewart brands. Sources knowledgeable about the issue said Ullman made the decision because of the poor sales performance of the brand.

Employees of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) are conducting a nationwide protest and demanding the company provide better working conditions and increase their compensation. District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray is expected to make a decision as to whether he would sign the minimum wage bill passed by the City Council that would require big retailers like Wal-Mart to pay a 50% premium on the $8.25 local minimum wage. The stock price of the retail giant slightly declined to $72.64 per share.