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The S&P closed at another record high yesterday boosted by encouraging private-sector hiring numbers. The benchmarks’ finish in the green was also aided by an increase in factory orders in February. This was the fourth-straight day of gains for the benchmarks.

For a look at the issues currently facing the markets, make sure to read today’s Ahead of Wall Street article
 
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 0.2% to close Wednesday’s trading session at 16,573.00. The Standard & Poor (S&P 500) rose 0.3% to finish at 1,890.90. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index went up 0.2% to 4,276.46. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) dropped 0.1% to settle at 13.09. Total volume for the day was roughly 6.2 billion shares, lower than this month’s average of 6.5 billion. Declining stocks were outnumbered by advancing stocks on the NYSE. For 41% stocks that declined, 55% advanced.
 
Markets ended higher on Wednesday following promising economic numbers. The national employment report from Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADP) showed private sector hiring improved in March. The report stated 191,000 private jobs were added in March. This was lower than expectations of 193,000 job additions. However, the figure was more than February’s revised figure of 178,000, up from January’s reading of 139,000. March’s job additions were also the most in the last three months. 175,000 jobs were added in January, followed by 178,000 in February.
 
Investors now eagerly await nonfarm payroll data scheduled for release this Friday. Total non-farm payroll accounts for approximately 80% of the workers who produce the entire GDP of the United States. Before that, the Department of Labor will release weekly initial claims data on Thursday.
 
Investors were also buoyed by encouraging factory orders data. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, new orders for manufactured goods increased 1.6% in February. This was above the consensus estimate of 1.1%. This reading follows a decrease of 1% in January. January’s figure was revised from the previous estimate of a 0.7% decline. However, excluding transportation new orders increased 0.7% in February. Separately, unfilled orders, shipments and inventories data were up 0.3%, 0.8% and 0.8%, respectively.
 
These reports came a day after data suggested manufacturing conditions had improved in March. On Tuesday, the Institute for Supply management reported that March PMI increased 0.5 percentage points to 53.7% from February’s reading of 53.2%. The rise in such a key index of the world’s largest economy immediately boosted investor sentiment.  Also, the New Orders Index advanced 0.6 percentage point from February to 55.1% in March.
 
Nine out of 10 sectors of the S&P 500 ended in the green. The Materials Select Sector SPDR (XLB) and the Industrial Select Sector SPDR (XLI) led the gains as both the sectors increased 0.7%. Key stocks from the Materials sector such as E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (NYSE:DD), The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW), Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON), LyondellBasell Industries NV (NYSE:LYB) and Praxair Inc. (NYSE:PX) rose 0.5%, 0.4%, 0.8%, 1.7% and 0.4%, respectively.
 
Major holdings from the Industrial sector such as General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX), Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE:UNP), Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE:HON) and United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE:UPS) advanced 0.7%, 1.7%, 0.3%, 0.7% and 0.7%, respectively.

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