Exchange traded funds (ETFs) were showing gains on Wednesday after Automatic Data Processing Inc. reported that private-sector companies added 201,000 jobs in March, while February’s job gains were revised downward.

  • U.S. private employers added 201,000 jobs in March, while February’s figure was revised down slightly, a report by a payrolls processor showed on Wednesday. The data was largely in line with expectations. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast the ADP Employer Services report would show a gain of 203,000 jobs. The report is jointly developed with Macroeconomic Advisers LLC. February’s figure was revised down to 208,000 from 217,000. “Basically the number was very much in line with expectations and shows that the labor recovery continues at a reasonable pace,” said David Katz, chief investment officer at Matrix Asset Advisors in New York. The ADP figures come ahead of the government’s much more comprehensive labor market report on Friday, which includes both public and private sector employment. The ProShares UltraPro Russell 2000 (NYSEArca: URTY) gained over 1.5% so far today.
  • Japanese stocks soared Wednesday on a weakened yen and news some firms will soon restart production at plants affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami, while solid results from Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. and other corporations boosted Hong Kong shares. The yen was one of the few Asian currencies that fell against the U.S. dollar after Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher said in an interview with Fox Business news that he opposed adding more liquidity to the U.S. economy. But the Australian dollar briefly hit a post-float-record level against the greenback on improved risk appetite. Leading the region’s major equity benchmarks, Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average climbed 2.6% to 9,708.79. Market sentiment remained cautious, however, amid ongoing struggles to contain radiation leaks from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power facility. The ProShares Ultra MSCI Japan ETF (NYSEArca: EZJ) rose almost 3% in early trading.
  • The U.S. dollar gained ground versus most major rivals Wednesday, pressing to a post-earthquake high versus the Japanese yen after another Federal Reserve official spoke out against a further round of quantitative easing by the U.S. central bank. The dollar’s overall rise was attributed in large part to remarks by Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, who said late Tuesday that he would vote against any further monetary easing by the central bank at the end of the current program in June. “I will vote against … any further extension of that program,” Fisher told Fox Business News, referring to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s $600 billion asset-purchase program. “I cannot foresee a circumstance where I can support any further liquidity in the economy,” The PowerShares DB U.S. Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSEArca: UUP) is up slightly on Wednesday.
  • Shares of drugmaker Cephalon Inc (NYSE: CEPH) surged more than 29% on Wednesday, above a $5.7 billion unsolicited buyout offer from Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (NYSE: VRX) in a sign investors expect a higher bid. On Tuesday, Canada’s Valeant made public a $73 per share bid to buy Cephalon and said it would take the offer directly to the target’s shareholders. Cephalon’s shares were trading at $76 before the market opened on Wednesday. The company said it would respond to Valeant’s proposal next week. Analysts said the deal would provide a major boost to Valeant, which specializes in branded generics, dermatology and neurology treatments. U.S.-listed shares in the company rose 17% premarket. The ProShares Ultra Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (NasdaqGM: BIB) jumped about 4%.

Gregory A. Clay contributed to this article

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