US stocks open on a high note to start September

New York (AFP) –


Wall Street equities brushed off lackluster private jobs data and fears about the Delta variant of Covid-19 to open higher on Wednesday in the first trading session of the month.

Stocks have posted steady gains and a series of records for months, with just a few pauses, and seemed on track to continue that trend.

About 20 minutes into the session, the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average was essentially flat at 35,348.49.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent to 4,531.97, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.6 percent to 15,350.66.

Investors seemed unconcerned by the big miss in private hiring in August, which at 374,000, according to payroll services firm ADP, was about half what economist had been expecting, potentially a red flag for the critical government jobs report due Friday.

The data "has highlighted a downshift in the labor market recovery," ADP chief economist Nela Richardson said.

But that was offset by news that retail giant Walmart is seeking to add 20,000 permanent positions.

Maris Ogg of Tower Bridge Advisors said the data are buffeted "crosscurrents" including shortages that could cause layoffs and "demand from every sector for more workers."

"I think we just had to keep our eye on the long term, because we know that this recovery, both the stock market recovery and the economic recovery, are not over."

Walmart shares were down 0.4 percent, while the Campbell Soup Company gained 3.8 percent after reporting better than expected earnings.