(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed in green ahead of the keenly anticipated monthly payrolls report, even as better-than-expected jobless claims data and remarks by European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi buoyed sentiment.
The S&P 500 Index rose 0.72 percent to finish at 1,461.40. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.60 percent to end at 13,575.36. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.45 percent to close at 3,149.46.
On the U.S. economic front, the number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits unexpectedly fell last week, government data showed. Jobless claims increased 4,000 to 367,000 for the week ended September 29 from a revised 363,000, while economists projected 370,000 applications.
Friday's U.S. non-farm payrolls report may show 113,000 jobs were added in September, and the unemployment rate edged up to 8.2 percent.
A few expressed skepticism that additional policy accommodation could help spur an economy that they saw as held back by uncertainties and a range of structural issues, showed the minutes of the Fed's September 12-13 policy-setting committee meeting.
The minutes also showed that many participants thought that more-effective forward guidance could be provided by specifying numerical thresholds for labor market and inflation indicators that would be consistent with maintaining the federal funds rate at exceptionally low levels.
The Commerce Department showed factory goods orders dropped 5.2 percent in August, better than expectations of a decline of 5.9 percent.
Meanwhile, Draghi said the ECB is prepared to buy government bonds once the necessary conditions are fulfilled. ECB also decided to keep the interest rate on the main refinancing operations at a record low of 0.75 percent.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: NUVA, INFA, HMSY, ISCA, AVY, KSS, COST
In corporate news, NuVasive Inc. (NASDAQ:NUVA) slumped 32.80 percent after the medical device company said it expects third-quarter revenue below its prior view, also trailing market expectations, citing unusually high account churn and increased delays and denials from insurance payers. Shares were downgraded to "Underperform" from "Outperform" by RBC Capital Markets.
Informatica Corp. (NASDAQ:INFA) tumbled nearly 25 percent after the provider of data-integration software forecast third-quarter earnings and revenue that trailed market expectations, due primarily to weakness in Europe. FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi lowered his price target on the stock to $32 from $45.
HMS Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ:HMSY) shed 13.77 percent after the health-care data services company reduced its earnings and sales forecast for the full year.
International Speedway Corp. (NASDAQ:ISCA) tumbled 10.33 percent after the owner of motorsports entertainment facilities posted a quarterly loss and warned its 2012 non-GAAP earnings will be below its forecast of $1.50 per share.
Avery Dennison Corp. (NYSE:AVY) retreated 4.39 percent after the labeling and packaging company terminated an agreement with 3M Co. (NYSE:MMM) related to the sale of its office and consumer products business.
Kohl's Corp. (NYSE:KSS) lost 2.51 percent after the specialty department store said comparable store sales last month declined 2.7 percent. The company backed its third-quarter earnings outlook.
Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ:COST) added 1.87 percent after the company reported a 6 percent growth in comparable sales for the month of September, positively impacted by inflation in gasoline prices and foreign currencies.
European markets closed lower, with Germany's DAX down 0.23 percent to close at 7,305.21. France's CAC40 fell 0.14 percent to finish at 3,401.20. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 inched up 0.03 percent to end at 5,827.78.
Among Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.89 percent to end at 8,824.59. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.09 percent to close at 20,907.95. India's BSE Sensex finished at 19,058.15, up 1.00 percent. China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index is closed for a public holiday.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures jumped 3.88 percent to $91.56 per barrel, and natural gas futures added 0.29 percent to $3.404 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures rose 0.74 percent to $1,793 per ounce and silver futures gained 0.98 percent to $35.03 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro rose 0.86 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3016. The British pound advanced 0.70 percent against the greenback to 1.6189, while the dollar shed 0.04 percent against the Japanese yen to 78.4500.