With Wall Street getting back to work after Hurricane Sandy closed the markets earlier this week, it's fitting that jobs numbers would be the driver for a big jump for stocks. The monthly ADP report on business employment reported a gain of 158,000 jobs in October. That was enough to send the markets soaring, with the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) gaining more than 170 points by 10:45 a.m. EDT. The broader market kept pace with the Dow's gains, as well.
Rising stocks swamped the decliners, with United Technologies (NYSE:RTX) and Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) leading the way with gains of almost 3%. United Tech won a contract to develop new engine technologies, and Caterpillar stands to gain from reconstruction post-Hurricane Sandy. But the gains are more likely a reflection of greater overall optimism about the economy.
Yet earnings news tempered some of the gains. Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) fell 1.5% after reporting a 16% plunge in revenue, most of which was due to its blockbuster drug Lipitor coming off patent. Sales of Lipitor dropped a whopping 87% in the U.S. and 71% globally, overshadowing a penny beat on earnings per share. Pfizer will need to come up with replacements for Lipitor in order to sustain its recent share-price advances.
ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) also dropped slightly despite beating expectations. Revenue fell 8%, with both output declines and falling prices hurting the company's top line. The company's refining margins improved, but that wasn't enough to prevent a 7% drop in net income. Huge buybacks of shares kept the damage to EPS figures to a minimum, but the bigger issue is whether Exxon can get its production back up.