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US: Stocks gain on jobs data, dovish Fed

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[NEW YORK] US stocks scored solid gains for the second straight session Wednesday on good private-sector hiring figures and continued momentum from dovish commentary from the head of the Federal Reserve.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 83.55 points (0.47 per cent) to 17,716.66.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 8.94 (0.44 per cent) to 2,063.95, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 22.67 (0.47 per cent) to 4,869.29.

The gain in US stocks came as most overseas markets rose on comments Tuesday by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen pledging a very cautious approach to further interest rate increases.

Market voices on:

Private payrolls firm ADP reported that the US added 200,000 private-sector jobs in March, raising hopes that Friday's monthly US jobs report will be strong.

"The drivers are back to a more dovish Fed and hopes that the earnings season will be better than expected," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

Dow member Boeing fell 1.8 per cent on news it will eliminate about 4,000 jobs as it seeks to cut costs and boost productivity.

MetLife jumped 5.4 per cent after a federal judge annulled a US designation of the insurer as a systemically important financial institution requiring much stricter regulation.

Insurers AIG and Prudential Financial, which also carry the SIFI designation, rose by 2.1 per cent and 2.0 per cent, respectively.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International tumbled 6.6 per cent as it announced it had sought waivers from lenders to extend the deadline for filing its annual and quarterly securities reports. The reports have been held up by a review of the company's financial statements.

Carnival advanced 5.5 per cent as first-quarter net income nearly tripled to US$142 million. The cruise company lifted its 2016 forecast based on stronger booking trends compared with last year.

Yoga-attire maker Lululemon Athletica surged 10.7 per cent as fourth-quarter earnings climbed 5.9 per cent to US$117.4 million on a five per cent rise in comparable store sales.

Acadia Pharmaceuticals surged 9.2 per cent on news a US Food and Drug Administration panel voted in favor of its Nuplazid medication for the treatment of psychosis associated with Parkinson's disease.