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Midday Market Update

Stocks Higher After Jobs Data

U.S. Market    
Stocks rose this morning after a better-than-expected jobs report.

The U.S. economy added 236,000 jobs last month, well above expectations. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.7% from 7.9% in January, the lowest level since December 2008. The improvement was driven by increases across almost all sectors. Average earnings and hours worked also ticked up in the month.

Wholesale inventories rose 1.2% in January, higher than the 0.3% gain expected by economists. The increase could be a sign that businesses are rebuilding stockpiles ahead of expectations for improcing demand. 

At midday the Nasdaq, S&P 500  and Dow were up 0.2%, 0.3% and 0.4% respectively.

Stocks on the Move
Shares of Ann ANN jumped over 8% this morning after the firm reported fourth-quarter results. The parent company of Ann Taylor and Loft, said that its earnings per share rose to 5 cents from 4 cents in the year-ago quarter. Sales were up 7.2% to $607 million. Analysts had expected earnings per share to come in at 1 cent.

McDonald’s MCD said its same-store sales fell 1.5% year-over-year in February. The decline was driven by the lack of a leap day in 2013 compared to February 2012. Excluding currency fluctuations, total sales were up 1.1% in the month.  Shares of the restaurant giant were up 1.5% at midday.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Google GOOG is laying off 1,200 workers from Motorola Mobility, more than 10% of that unit’s workforce. The move comes on the heels of a 4,000 worker cut. Google is trying to cut costs at the company as it rebuilds the handset maker’s product pipeline.

Foreign Markets
European shares moved higher after U.S. jobs data. In late trading, the FTSE 100 and Germany’s DAX were each up 0.6% while the Paris CAC was 1.2% higher.

Asian markets were mixed on the day. The Shanghai Composite was off 0.2%, while the Hang Seng and Nikkei 225 rallied 1.4% and 2.6% respectively.