Stocks climb to kick off Nov. on a positive note

NEW YORK — The stock market started November on a strong note as investors reacted to an expansion in U.S. manufacturing last month.

The improvement came during what could have been a difficult month for the U.S. economy, with a partial government shutdown that lasted 16 days and a narrowly averted default on the U.S. government’s debt, which could have rattled financial markets.

“With what happened in the last two months, it’s amazing how strong this market has been,” said Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 69.80 to 15,615.55. The S&P 500 index rose 5.10 to 1,761.64. The Nasdaq composite rose 2.34 to 3,922.04.

Manufacturing grows at fastest pace since ‘11

WASHINGTON — U.S. factory activity expanded in October at the fastest pace in 2½ years, suggesting that the 16-day partial shutdown of the government had little effect on manufacturers.

Instead, overseas demand and healthy U.S. auto sales appear to be supporting factory output. The housing recovery is also lifting the furniture and wood products industry despite a recent slowing in home sales.

The ISM’s manufacturing index rose to 56.4 from 56.2 in September. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

Factories also expanded in Europe this month, according to surveys in that region. Manufacturing indexes have all picked up in China, Japan, and South Korea. Overseas strength is boosting demand for U.S. factories.

Container Store shares jump in trading debut

NEW YORK — Shares of The Container Store more than doubled in their market debut on Friday. The company raised $225 million in its initial public offering, pricing 12.5 million shares at $18 each. The stock soared $18.20 to $36.20.

The retailer specializes in shelving, storage bins, boxes and other organizational items

The company plans to spend proceeds on paying dividends to its private equity firm backer, Leonard Green & Partners, as well as current and former employees and repaying debt.

The Container Store has 62 stores nationwide.

Chevron profit falls on weakness in refining

NEW YORK — Chevron said Friday that net income fell 6 percent to $4.95 billion in the third quarter as weak refining results and higher operating costs offset higher oil and gas production and prices.

The nation’s second-biggest oil company had revenue of $56.6 billion, up almost 2 percent from a year ago.

Chevron’s worldwide oil and gas production rose 3 percent, or about 70,000 barrels per day, compared with last year. Higher oil prices, and higher natural gas prices in the U.S. also helped boost revenue. But higher expenses and exploration costs offset those gains.

Quality of Lululemon’s pants draw complaints

NEW YORK — Just a few months after Lululemon pulled yoga pants from shelves because they were too sheer, costing them million in sales, the company is fielding new complaints about quality.

The Canadian company had blamed the issue from spring on a style change and production issues.

New yoga pants have since made their way into stores, but there are recent complaints on the Lululemon Facebook page and website about pants that are still too sheer. There are also complaints about pants pilling after a few months of wear and about seams coming apart.

The pants can cost $100 or more.

Wire reports