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Stocks higher after payroll report, pharma deal

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By Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose Wednesday as a strong payroll report and a big pharmaceutical deal overshadowed concerns about the nuclear crisis in Japan and the battle for control of Libya.

The ADP National Employment Report said 201,000 new private sector jobs were added in March. That is roughly in line with the 210,000 analysts had expected, but investors were encouraged by a strong gain in small business hiring.

While not a huge surprise, the ADP report "helped the realization that things are not as bleak as they seemed a few weeks ago," said Ryan Detrick, a strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research.

The report is seen as a precursor to the government's March payrolls report due Friday, but the two reports don't always match up. Traders are looking for any clues about how strong the U.S. job market is as they try to figure out how soon the Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates.

Cephalon Inc. surged 28 percent after Valeant Pharmaceuticals International offered to take over the biopharmaceutical company for $5.7 billion in cash. Valeant, based in Canada, rose 10 percent. The takeover bid is the latest in a string of deal-related news, another positive sign for investors.


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