Investors are often cautious on the day ahead of the government's monthly jobs report, but that wasn't the case Thursday. The Dow Industrials and the S&P 500 both rallied to record highs, helped by the European Central Bank's move to cut key interest rates to near zero. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 98 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) rose 12, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rallied 44 points.
The Dow was led upward by Caterpillar (CAT) and Microsoft (MSFT), both up more than 2 percent. FBR Capital raised its rating on Microsoft to "outperform."
General Motors (GM) edged lower. An internal report on the company's faulty ignition switches found incompetence and neglect, but no conspiracy and no cover-up. GM shares are lower so far this year as the recalls and negative reports about the company's conduct have piled up.
Amazon (AMZN) jumped 5 percent on news reports that it's about to launch its own smartphone.
Barnes & Noble (BKS) gained 3½ percent. It's partnering with Samsung on a co-branded tablet due out by the end of the summer.
And Netflix (NFLX) added 1 percent. It's now blaming Verizon (VZ) for slowing the speed on Internet delivery of its movies. Netflix shares are now up more than 90 percent over the past year. Verizon responded by sending a legal challenge to Netflix, saying there's no basis for its charges.
On the merger front, investors are hanging up on Sprint (S) following reports that it's near a deal to pay $50 billion to buy T-Mobile (TMUS). Sprint lost 4 percent and T-Mobile fell 2 percent.
But Whole Foods (WFM) gained 4½ percent on a report it may be a takeover target, with the large privately held supermarket chain Publix mentioned as a possible suitor.
As for earnings, Rite Aid (RAD) slid 7½ percent after lowering its outlook. PVH (PVH) also cut its outlook. The owner of the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands fell 8 percent. And handbag maker Vera Bradley (VRA) fell 5 percent as earnings tumbled.
On the upside, network equipment company Ciena (CIEN) jumped 18 percent after beating expectations and raising its outlook.
What to Watch Friday:
- The Labor Department releases employment data for May at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
- The Federal Reserve releases consumer credit data for April at 3 p.m.
- Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (JOSB) reports quarterly financial results after markets close in New York.