U.S. companies added 157,000 employees in June, up from 36,000 in May, says private payroll processor ADP

NEW YORK , July 7, 2011 () – Better news on jobs is driving stocks higher at the opening of trading.

The government reported Thursday that the number of people making first-time claims for unemployment benefits was the lowest in seven weeks.

Separately, private payroll processor Automatic Data Processing said companies added 157,000 employees in June, far higher than the 36,000 added the previous month.

The reports come a day before the Labor Department releases its monthly report on employment.

Target Corp., Costco Wholesale Corp. and other major retailers are also reporting stronger sales for June.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 59 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,685. The S&P 500 index is up 11, or 0.8 percent, to 1,350. The Nasdaq is up 23, or 0.8 percent, to 2,856.

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