On The Fly: Top stock stories at midday

Stocks opened sharply higher following the better than expected monthly jobs report. In addition to more jobs having been created in February than was predicted, the highly anticipated average hourly wage increase was lower than expected, calming concern over the potential for wage inflation to accelerate actions from the Federal Reserve. The averages have continued to tack on gains throughout the morning and stand near session highs at midday. ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., nonfarm payrolls rose 313,000 in February, easily beating expectations for the addition of 205,000 nonfarm jobs last month. Average hourly earnings grew 2.6% over the prior year, versus the expectation for a 2.8% year-over-year increase. Wholesale inventories rose 0.8%, but sales dropped 1.1% in January. In Asia, China's CPI firmed to 2.9% growth while PPI was up 3.7%. Also, the Bank of Japan kept policy unchanged, as was widely expected. In Europe, Germany's trade numbers for January fell a bit short of expectations, with exports and imports each falling 0.5%. COMPANY NEWS: Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein is preparing to step down from his post heading the firm as soon as the end of the year, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter. Goldman isn't looking beyond its two co-presidents, Harvey Schwartz and David Solomon, to replace Blankfein, the report added... Broadcom (AVGO) released an open letter to members of congress regarding its offer to acquire Qualcomm (QCOM). In the letter, Broadcom pledged to cooperate with the U.S. and said it was "fully committed" to making the U.S. the global leader in 5G development. Shares of Qualcomm are up a bit over 1% after the news, while Broadcom was up 2% amid the broader market's strength... Meanwhile, shares of toy giants Mattel (MAT) and Hasbro (HAS) fell a respective 5.5% and 3% after Bloomberg reported that Toys 'R' Us is prepping for a liquidation of its bankrupt U.S. operations after failing to find a buyer or reach a debt restructuring pact with lenders. MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Wynn Resorts (WYNN), which rose 4.5% after it concluded a settlement agreement with Universal Entertainment Corporation and Aruze USA, Inc. regarding litigation between the parties which began in February 2012 and was related to the redemption of Aruze USA's equity stake in Wynn Resorts. Also higher after reporting quarterly results were Party City (PRTY) and PDL BioPharma (PDLI), which gained a respective 6.5% and 16%. Among the notable losers was GoPro (GPRO), which fell 4.5% after the New York Post reported that the company has failed to attract serious buyout interest from any suitors after hiring JPMorgan last year to explore a possible sale. Also lower after reporting quarterly results were Big Lots (BIG) and Finisar (FNSR), which slipped a respective 10% and 8.5%. INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was up 337.68, or 1.36%, to 25,232.89, the Nasdaq was up 102.00, or 1.37%, to 7,529.95, and the S&P 500 was up 35.73, or 1.3%, to 2,774.70.

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