U.S. stocks edged higher Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallying nearly 100 points, as investors look ahead to the opening of first- quarter earnings season this week. Meanwhile, the Labor Department said U.S. job openings rose to a 14-year high in February, easing concerns of a slowdown in the labor market following Friday's weak jobs report.
In morning trading Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) gained 100 points, or more than 0.5 percent, to 17,983.12. The Standard & Poor's 500 (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) added 7.83 points, or 0.38 percent, to 2,088.45. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 30.01 points, or 0.60 percent, to 4,947.33
Data released Tuesday showed U.S. job openings rose to 5.13 million at the end of February, up from 4.97 million in January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) on Tuesday. The data is used to measure U.S. vacancies for full-time and part-time jobs.
“The weak jobs report was probably a blip," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network. "However, it does reflect a more difficult hiring environment, not from a number of jobs perspective, but from a labor quality perspective. Companies simply can’t hire the workers they want to hire, and that’s going to adversely impact hiring going forward.”
Following Friday’s weaker-than-expected jobs report, economists will turn their attention to this week's release of minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's latest meeting, due out Wednesday at 2 p.m. EDT. The minutes could reveal clues as to the timing of the Federal Reserve's next interest rate hike, which could happen as early as June.
Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. will kick off earnings season after the closing bell Wednesday.
Shares of FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) jumped more than 4 percent Tuesday to $173.25 in morning trading after the delivery company announced it will buy Dutch rival TNT Express NV (AMS:TNTE) for 4.4 billion euros ($4.8 billion). Following the announcement, shares of TNT Express surged around 30 percent to $7.76 in Amsterdam.
Dow component Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) was among the largest gainers in the blue-chip index Tuesday, adding more than 0.85 percent to $100.03. Market professionals will be keeping an eye on the energy sector Tuesday after a 6 percent surge in oil prices a day earlier boosted S&P 500 energy stocks around 2 percent Monday. The S&P 500 energy sector edged up 0.36 percent Tuesday, with Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (NYSE:COG) among the largest gainers, adding around 1 percent to $30.89.
Oil prices traded mostly lower Tuesday in the midst of talks between Iran and China that investors fear could increase oil sales and add to an already oversupplied global market. West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, lost more than 1.2 percent to $51.47 a barrel, for May 15 delivery, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the benchmark for global oil prices, fell 0.76 percent to $57.68 a barrel, for May 15 delivery, on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
Meanwhile, the euro dropped against the dollar Tuesday, falling to $1.08, as Greece nears a 448 million-euro ($486 million) payment deadline to the International Monetary Fund, due Thursday. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against major world currencies, rose more than 0.65 percent to $97.70.
The Federal Reserve will post its consumer credit report for February on Tuesday at 3 p.m. EDT, which estimates changes in the dollar amounts of outstanding loans mainly used to purchase consumer goods.