Wall Street gains 1 percent on strong consumer and job data

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By Caroline Valetkevitch | November 2, 2012 6:49 AM EST

Stocks rose 1 percent on Thursday as bullish consumer confidence and private-sector jobs data gave investors reason to cheer following superstorm Sandy's devastating sweep through the U.S. Northeast.

Technology and materials sector shares led the advance after data from payrolls processor ADP showed U.S. companies added 158,000 workers in October - the fastest pace in eight months. U.S. consumer confidence jumped in October to its highest level in more than four years, the Conference Board said.

The numbers paint a rosier economic picture before a key government report on nonfarm payrolls due on Friday.

Volume was near average, with 5.5 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and NYSE MKT in the early afternoon. Volume had been expected to spike after Sandy forced a historic two-day market closure earlier in the week.

"I think the numbers are trending well. In all, it bodes well for the bull side, and finally gave some investors a catalyst to buy," said Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates, an investment advisory firm in Toledo, Ohio.

"Tomorrow I think will be more of a trump card and can take it all away."

Northeast residents and workers were still recovering from the aftermath of Sandy, which killed dozens of people in North America and the Caribbean, and wreaked havoc up and down the U.S. eastern seaboard.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 107.44 points, or 0.82 percent, at 13,203.90. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 12.86 points, or 0.91 percent, at 1,425.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 37.56 points, or 1.26 percent, at 3,014.79.

Providing more support for equity markets and other risky bets, official and private-sector factory surveys in China showed the world's second-biggest economy regaining some traction.

Shares of JDA Software Group , a maker of supply-chain management software, soared 17.4 percent to $44.78 after the company agreed to be bought by privately held rival RedPrairie Corp for about $1.9 billion in cash.

Pfizer Inc , which delayed the release of its quarterly results because of the storm, posted revenue that fell far short of expectations, pushing its stock down 1.3 percent to $24.55.

Shares of Exxon Mobil Corp , which like Pfizer is a Dow component, gained 0.3 percent to $91.41 after the company reported a quarterly profit that slipped from a year ago, although it still topped expectations. Exxon's oil and gas output, however, declined more than expected.

(Additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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