Flurry of Good News Leads Stocks Higher

Jobs and housing data lead to early Dow gains

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U.S. stock markets opened broadly higher in the first hour of trading on April 5, 2010, in the first day of stock trading after the positive April 2 jobs report, the April 3 introduction of Apple Inc.'s iPad, and the release on Monday morning, April 5 of a key housing report that showed an increase in pending home sales.

On April 2, when the U.S. stock markets were closed for Good Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that while unemployment in March stayed steady at 9.7%, there were 162,000 full-time jobs created during the month. A day earlier, there was a further drop reported in weekly first-time unemployment claims.

Apple reported that it sold more than 300,000 iPads as of midnight on April 3, along with more than 1 million apps downloaded from Apple's App Store and more than 250,000 ebooks from its iBookstore. Other analysts put the number of first-day iPads sold at 600,000 to 700,000, including preoders. Those numbers, and some analysts' raising AAPL's stock price target to nearly $300 (from the April 1 close of $236), helped propel the Nasdaq higher early on April 5.

On April 5, the National Association of Realtors reported an 8.2% increase in pending home sales for February, which further heartened traders. The forward-looking NAR index, which measures contracts to sell homes, not actual closings, is now 17.3% ahead of its February 2009 level.

IA's own Ben Warwick makes the case for a longer-term rally in his latest Searching for Alpha commentary .

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