COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | GEORGE CHAMBERLIN

Dow average tops 17,000 as payrolls rise amid ECB plans

Stock prices moved through a historic threshold on Thursday following a better-than-expected employment report.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 92.02 points to 17,068.26, its first close ever above 17,000 and a new all-time closing high. The Nasdaq composite index was up 28.19 points to 4,485.93, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 10.82 points to 1,985.44, also a record high.

The Department of Labor reported U.S. payrolls rose by 288,000 in June and the nation's unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent.

Oil prices fell for the sixth consecutive session, down 42 cents to $104.06 a barrel. Gold also declined, down $10.30 to $1,320.60 an ounce.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed above 17,000 for the first time as data showed employers added more workers than projected in June and the European Central Bank disclosed details of its stimulus plans.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) and MetLife Inc. (NYSE: MET) advanced at least 1.5 percent, pacing gains among banks and insurance companies.

Paccar Inc. (Nasdaq: PCAR) added 5.4 percent amid speculation that the maker of Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks may receive takeover interest from Volkswagen AG.

PetSmart Inc. (Nasdaq: PETM) jumped 13 percent after Jana Partners LLC disclosed a new activist stake. Lululemon Athletica Inc. (Nasdaq: LULU) gained 2.9 percent after a report that the yoga-wear company has explored a buyout by a private-equity firm.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries climbed two basis points to 2.65 percent.

The addition of 288,000 jobs followed a 224,000 gain the prior month that was bigger than previously estimated, Labor Department figures showed Thursday in Washington.

It took the Dow 227 days to cross the 17,000 mark after surpassing 16,000 for the first time Nov. 18.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT), the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment, Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), the biggest entertainment company, and computer-chip maker Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), led the advance, rising more than 20 percent.

Benchmark indexes are at record levels as stocks extended a rebound from a sell-off earlier this year that started with biotechnology and small-cap stocks. The S&P 500 has rallied 9.4 percent since reaching a two-month low in April as central bank stimulus spread from Europe to Japan and the U.S.

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said last month that accommodative monetary policy, rising property and equity prices and the improving global economy should lead to above-trend growth. The Fed has kept its benchmark rate near zero since December 2008.

ECB President Mario Draghi reiterated Thursday that he’ll keep interest rates low as officials try to revive the region’s economy with a new round of emergency measures.

Nine of 10 main industries in the S&P 500 advanced. Industrial, consumer-discretionary and financial firms were the biggest gainers, rallying at least 0.8 percent.

Life insurers such as Lincoln National Corp. (NYSE: LNC) and MetLife benefit from climbing bond yields, which allow them to invest clients’ premiums and maturing securities at higher interest rates.

MetLife added 2 percent to $57.22 and Lincoln National increased 2.1 percent to $53.28. Goldman Sachs added 1.5 percent to $169.46 for the biggest advance in the Dow.

Paccar rose 5.4 percent to $67.25. Volkswagen spokeswoman Christine Ritz said that the largest European carmaker “clearly denies” an interest in bidding for the Bellevue, Wash.-based company.

Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Max Warburton said in a note that Wolfgang Bernhard, chief of the truck unit at Daimler AG, said at an event Wednesday with analysts that Volkswagen may bid for Paccar.

Lorillard Inc. (NYSE: LO) climbed 5.3 percent to $64.41. The fourth-largest U.S. tobacco seller may be taken over by Reynolds American Inc. (NYSE: RAI) within weeks, CNBC reported, citing people it didn’t identify. Reynolds added 2.3 percent to $61.56.

PetSmart jumped 13 percent to $67.28. Jana, the $10 billion hedge-fund firm run by Barry Rosenstein and known for pushing corporate managements to make changes, acquired about 9.9 percent of PetSmart in stock and options, and “expects to have discussions” with management, the board and other investors, according to a regulatory filing.

Lululemon rose 2.9 percent to $42.60. Advisers to founder Chip Wilson have been talking to private-equity firms, including Leonard Green & Partners LP, about taking the company private, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation. The newspaper reported on June 22 that the Vancouver-based company is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on options including shaking up the board and partnering with a buyout firm.

— Bloomberg contributed to this report.

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