After Market: Employment Tops '08 Peak, Stocks Hit New Highs

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Slow but steady -- that seems to be the new mantra here on Wall Street. The Dow Industrials and the S&P 500 plowed further into record territory on Friday.

The catalyst for today's advance was the monthly jobs report, which showed the total number of people employed finally topped the 2008 peak it hit just before the Great Recession took hold.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 88 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) rose 9, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) gained 25 points.

Financial stocks helped lead the advance. Goldman Sachs (GS) and American Express (AXP) both gained more than 2 percent.

Bank of America (BAC) rose 1 percent on reports that it's in talks with the Justice Department to settle another set of probes into the bank's handling of mortgages leading up to and during the financial crisis. News reports say the company could pay more than $12 billion, which is more than it earned in all of 2013. But this could allow Bank of America to finally put this long-running problem behind it. Its stock has been virtually flat over the past 6 months.

Amazon (AMZN) posted a strong gain for second straight day, rising 2 percent, on indications that it's about to enter the smartphone business.

And Sears (SHLD) gained nearly 2 percent on a Reuters report that the company's chairman has held talks with outgoing Ford (F) CEO Alan Mulally, sparking rumors that he might head the retailer's turnaround effort.

Elsewhere, Hertz (HRZ) drove into a ditch, sliding 9 percent after saying it will restate earnings from 2011 through 2013 because of accounting issues.

Diamond Foods (DMND) fell 11 percent. Its quarterly loss widened, due to higher wholesale prices for nuts.

But Vail Resorts (MTN), Men's Wearhouse (MW), and VeriFone (PAY) all gained after beating expectations. Vail was up 6 percent; Men's Wearhouse rose 5½ percent; and VeriFone jumped 9 percent. Demand for its merchant payment systems has been helped by growing concern about hackers.

Finally, Caesars Entertainment (CZR) fell 3 percent on a Bloomberg report that the gaming company has received a default notice from a group of bondholders.

What to Watch Monday:

These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements:
  • Casey's General Stores (CASY)
  • Pep Boys-Manny Moe & Jack (PBY)
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.


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