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US benchmarks extend gains

Share prices bobbed around near their highs of the day heading into the last hour of trading on Wall Street.

All trading involves risk. Losses can exceed deposits.

A strong start to August has got stronger as the trading day has progressed in New York, with the Dow setting a new all-time high of 15,650.69 and the S&P 500 moving above 1700 for the first time. Financials and industrials led the markets higher, with Bank of America gaining more than 2% and Caterpillar climbing 1.7%.

We’ve had a strong collection of economic reports today, with first-time claimants for unemployment benefit falling to a recovery low and the ISM manufacturing index hitting a two-year high, but it is tomorrow’s official government report on the employment situation that will be the most closely followed. 184,000 jobs are expected to have been added to the non-farm payrolls last month, according to a poll conducted by Reuters.

Employment is one of the key factors the Fed is looking at in its decision of whether to scale back the magnitude of its monthly asset purchase or not, and so the results of tomorrow’s data could prove pivotal.

Exxon Mobil is one of the few declining Dow components today, dropping 1.3% after missing earnings estimates by quite a large margin. Fellow Dow component Procter & Gamble rose 1.4% after posting better-than-expected earnings and revenue for its fiscal fourth quarter, the first set of results since the return of CEO A.G. Lafley.

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