US close: Stocks rally as week closes

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LONDON (ShareCast) - - Non-farm payrolls ahead of forecasts
- Unemployment rate drops

Dow Jones Industrial Average: 0.47%
Nasdaq Comp: 0.37%
S&P 500: 0.44%

America's three key US equity benchmarks finished the week higher after a wave of encouraging financial and economic data was published. Total (NYSE: TOT - news) wholesale inventories in the US expanded to four times the expected level, the number of active oil rigs in the country grew and the rate of unemployment in the country contracted.

Risers and fallers

Shares in tax service provider H&R Black topped the S&P 500 index's risers, followed closely by insurance, annuities and employee benefits programme provider MetLife (NYSE: MET - news) , whose shares advanced by 4.89% to $39.03.

In third place on the S&P risers was consumer electronics retailer Best Buy, whose shares increased by 4.72% to $20.17. Hartford Financial Services Group also saw its shares rise by 4.52% to $25.45.

Shares in insurance company Aflac (NYSE: AFL - news) contracted by 2.77% to $50.14. Goldman Sachs Group's share price fell 2.32% to $152.98. Meanwhile San Antonio-based independent petroleum refiner and marketer Valero Energy Corp. saw its shares slide 2.17% to $45.50.

Walt Disney Company topped the Dow Jones Industrial Average risers, with its shares climbing 1.90% to $57.39. Fast food chain McDonalds was hot on its heels with its shares up 1.67% to $98.71 and shares in home improvement specialty retailer Home Depot lifted 1.59% to $71.37.

Wholesale inventories grow four times more than expected Data published by the US Department of Commerce showed that total inventories of merchant wholesalers after adjustment for seasonal variations was valued at $504.4bn at the end of January, representing an increase of 1.2% from the revised December level. This was four times the 0.3% growth rate which had been predicted. Compared to wholesale inventories one year ago, the inventories were up 6.5%

Inventories of durable goods were up 1.1% from December and were up 8.3% from a year ago. Inventories of lumber and other construction materials were up 3.4% from last month and inventories of computer and computer peripheral equipment and software were up 3.2%.

Employment rates increase Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 236,000 in February and the unemployment rate edged down to 7.7%, according to the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employment increased in professional and business services, construction and health care. The number of long-term unemployed - those jobless for 27 weeks or more- was about unchanged at 4.8m in February. These individuals accounted for 40.2% of the unemployed.

Active oil rigs up year-on-year in March The number of active oil rigs in the US was up by eight to 1,341 on March 8th, and up 45 from 1,296 one year ago, according to the latest Baker Hughes Rig Counts data. The company's rig counts are an important business barometer for the drilling industry and its suppliers and act as an indicator of demand for products used in drilling, completing, producing and processing hydrocarbons.

The data also showed that the gas rig count was down 13 to 407 and down 263 from 670 a year ago.

Crude futures up Front month West Texas crude futures are now up by 0.413 to the $91.94 per barrel mark on the NYMEX.

US 10 year bonds climbed five basis points to end the day at 2.04%

S&P 500 - Risers
H&R Block Inc (NYSE: HRB - news) . (HRB) $27.28 +9.21%
MetLife Inc. (MET) $39.03 +4.89%
Best Buy Co. Inc (NYSE: BBY - news) . (BBY) $20.17 +4.72%
Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (HIG) $25.45 +4.52%
Lincoln National Corp. (LNC) $33.00 +4.33%
Newell Rubbermaid Inc (NYSE: NWL - news) . (NWL) $24.94 +3.87%
Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C - news) . (C) $46.68 +3.73%
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc (NYSE: HOT - news) . (HOT) $62.56 +3.58%
Tenet Healthcare Corp (NYSE: THC - news) . (THC) $43.20 +3.45%
Dean Foods Co. (DF) $17.83 +3.24%

S&P 500 - Fallers
AFLAC Inc. (AFL) $50.14 -2.77%
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) $152.98 -2.32%
Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) $45.50 -2.17%
Juniper Networks Inc (NYSE: JNPR - news) . (JNPR) $20.69 -2.04%
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (NYSE: CMG - news) . (CMG (Other OTC: CMGO - news) ) $321.84 -1.73%
Newmont Mining Corp (NYSE: NEM - news) . (NEM) $39.25 -1.70%
Carnival Corp. (CCL) $35.67 -1.57%
Bank of America Corp. (BAC) $12.07 -1.55%
SLM Corp. (SLM) $19.07 -1.55%
Intel Corp. (INTC) $21.58 -1.42%

Dow Jones I.A - Risers
Walt Disney Co. (DIS) $57.39 +1.90%
McDonald's Corp. (MCD) $98.71 +1.67%
Home Depot Inc. (HD) $71.37 +1.59%
3M Co. (MMM) $105.71 +1.12%
Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) $47.96 +1.01%
E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. (DD) $49.15 +0.97%
Caterpillar Inc (NYSE: CAT - news) . (CAT (Taiwan OTC: 4990.TWO - news) ) $90.51 +0.96%
AT&T Inc. (T) $36.68 +0.80%
Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) $21.00 +0.72%
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ - news) (JNJ) $78.19 +0.57%

Dow Jones I.A - Fallers
Bank of America Corp. (BAC) $12.07 -1.55%
Intel Corp. (INTC) $21.58 -1.42%
JP Morgan Chase (Other OTC: JFTTL - news) & Co. (JPM) $50.20 -0.85%
Merck & Co. Inc (Xetra: A0YD8Q - news) . (MRK) $42.97 -0.69%
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) $28.00 -0.50%
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) $73.03 -0.40%
Alcoa Inc (NYSE: AA - news) . (AA) $8.61 -0.35%
Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE - news) . (PFE) $28.19 -0.28%

Nasdaq 100 - Risers
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VRTX) $52.81 +5.26%
Micron Technology Inc (NasdaqGS: MU - news) . (MU) $9.20 +2.91%
Vodafone Group Plc ADS (VOD) $27.71 +2.74%
PACCAR Inc (NasdaqGS: PCAR - news) . (PCAR) $50.45 +2.13%
News Corp (NasdaqGS: NWS - news) . Class A (NWSA) $30.57 +2.07%
Starz Class A (STRZA) $20.41 +2.00%
Ross Stores Inc (NasdaqGS: ROST - news) . (ROST) $56.20 +1.76%
Viacom Inc (NasdaqGS: VIAB - news) . Class B (VIAB) $61.90 +1.73%
DIRECTV (NasdaqGS: DTV - news) (DTV) $50.08 +1.71%
Garmin Ltd (NasdaqGS: GRMN - news) . (GRMN) $35.61 +1.68%

Nasdaq 100 - Fallers
Facebook Inc (NasdaqGS: FB - news) . (FB) $27.96 -2.16%
Randgold Resources Ltd. Ads (GOLD) $80.94 -1.65%
Catamaran Corp (CTRX) $55.36 -1.51%
Intel Corp. (INTC) $21.58 -1.42%
Baidu Inc (NasdaqGS: BIDU - news) . (BIDU) $89.22 -1.33%
Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc (NasdaqGS: ALXN - news) . (ALXN) $91.06 -1.28%
Whole Foods Market Inc (NasdaqGS: WFM - news) . (WFM) $85.02 -1.17%
Activision Blizzard Inc (NasdaqGS: ATVI - news) . (ATVI) $14.84 -0.87%
Monster Beverage Corp (MNST) $47.34 -0.86%
Oracle Corp. (ORCL) $35.71 -0.64%

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