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US stocks move higher on strong jobs report

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

US stocks moved higher Friday after a surprisingly strong jobs report suggested the economic recovery was on track.

The widely-anticipated monthly jobs report said the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent, while the number of net jobs gained came in at 236,000, according to the Labor Department.

Both numbers were better than expected.

About 30 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial average was up 27.38 (0.19 percent) to 14,356.87, after surging to a new intra-day record of 14,413.17 minutes after the market opened.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 2.09 (0.14 percent) to 1,546.35. The index was about 19 points below its all-time closing high.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index increased by 14.34 (0.44 percent) to 3,236.70.

Analysts hailed the strong jobs report.

"American companies are hiring again in greater numbers," said Sal Guatieri, senior economist of BMO Capital Markets said in a note.

"Employment should strengthen further as the fiscal fog clears and companies see sustained strength in consumer spending and housing activity."

Speculation immediately turned to whether the Federal Reserve would scale back its aggressive bond-purchasing program in light of the stronger results.

Nomura economist Aichi Amemiya said the erratic trend on jobs growth suggested the pace of job creation "was not stable," suggesting there is "a long way to go" before the Fed shifts gears.

Dow member McDonalds gained 1.9 percent after reporting comparable store sales decreased 1.5 percent in February. However, the results were negatively impacted by the comparison to the February 2012 period, which included a leap year day.

Citigroup was 1.5 percent higher after passing the Federal Reserve's annual stress test -- and exam it flunked a year ago -- and announcing a stock buyback.

But JP Morgan Chase was off 1.8 percent and Goldman Sachs lost 2.7percent as their results came in on the weak side of the 17 banks which passed.

Gardner Denver, which manufactures industrial machinery, gained 1.2 percent after investment firm KKR announced it was acquiring the company for around $3.9 billion, including debt.

Online music company Pandora Media jumped 24.3 percent after reporting record revenues. The company also announced its chief executive was stepping down.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.06 percent from 1.99 percent late Thursday, while the yield on the 30-year jumped to 3.25 percent from 3.20 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130308/us-stocks-move-higher-strong-jobs-report