( Reuters )- The Dow industrials and S& P 500 edged higher on Thursday as a larger-than-expected rise in factory orders eased worries about the economy.
But gains were limited by General Motors (GM.N), which fell to a 19-month low after its chief executive said he sees 2008 U.S. auto sales near 2007 levels. GM shares were down 3.6 percent at $23.53.
The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) was up 38.29 points, or 0.29 percent, at 13,082.25. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (.SPX) was up 3.67 points, or 0.25 percent, at 1,450.83. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC) was down 3.20 points, or 0.12 percent, at 2,606.43.
Oil's surge to $100 on Wednesday, as well as data showing a surprise contraction in manufacturing, caused the Dow to post its biggest points drop on the year's first trading day ever.
Government data showed new orders at factories rose in November despite the credit crunch and housing downturn. An earlier showed the private sector added 40,000 jobs in December.
"It was a bit of a surprising down day yesterday, and we're getting a little bit of a rebound today offsetting that," said Giri Cherukuri , head trader at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.
The rise in factory orders "is definitely good for equities. Strength in the economy is (good) as long as it's not too strong to keep the Fed from cutting rates."
Agricultural company Monsanto Co. (MON.N) raised its 2008 forecast, adding to some of the early market optimism.
Shares of State Street Corp (STT.N) rose 7.1 percent to $84.68 after the money manager's 2007 profit outlook, excluding a charge, merger costs and tax adjustments, topped analysts' estimates.
Monsanto shares jumped 5.3 percent to $117.40, boosting the S& P 500 index, after the company said quarterly profit tripled and it raised its 2008 forecast.
Shares of companies that could be hurt by a consumer spending cutback caused by higher oil prices fell. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT.N) were down 0.5 percent at $46.66.
ADP Employer Services, a private employment service, said U.S. private employers added 40,000 jobs in December. Analysts said the report, watched closely by markets for clues about the government's more comprehensive payrolls report on Friday, showed resilience in the jobs market.
In addition, the Labor Department said the number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless aid tumbled by 21,000 last week .