Stocks surge in early trading after hiring climbs

Stocks surge on Wall Street as hiring picks up; Dow crosses 15,000, S&P breaches 1,600

Associated Press
Stocks surge to new highs after hiring climbs
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In this Thursday, May 2, 2013, photo, traders gather at a post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Stock markets edged higher on Friday May 3, 2013 ahead of the release of the U.S. government's monthly unemployment report, a key measure of the health of the world's largest economy. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- A big gain in the job market is lifting the stock market to a record high.

The Dow Jones industrial average crossed 15,000 for the first time early Friday, and the Standard and Poor's 500 index, a broader market measure, rose above 1,600.

"We're breaking through psychological barriers and that will continue to bring investors off the sidelines," said Darrell Cronk, regional chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank. He termed the jobs news "wonderful."

As of noon Eastern Daylight Time the Dow had given up some of its early gain but was still up 151 points, or 1 percent, to 14,982. The S&P 500 index surged 18 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,616.

The government said U.S. employers added 165,000 jobs in April, more than economists were expecting. It also said more jobs were created in February and March than it had estimated earlier. The unemployment rate also fell to 7.5 percent, the lowest in four years, from 7.6 percent the month before.

When the jobs numbers were announced at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the price of crude oil rose sharply as traders anticipated a pickup in the economy. Oil rose $1.84 to $95.83 a barrel.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose sharply as traders moved money out of bonds and into riskier assets like stocks. The yield rose to 1.73 percent from 1.63 percent the day before, its lowest level of the year.

The stock market gains were led by companies that stand to benefit most from an upturn in the economy. Companies that make basic materials, industrial companies and energy companies rose the most in the S&P 500 index. Safe-play companies like utilities and consumer staples trailed the market as investors took on more risk.

Small-company stocks, which are more risky than bigger companies but can also offer investors greater returns, rose at nearly double the pace of the broader market. The Russell 2000 was up 2 percent at midday, twice as much as the S&P 500, which tracks large company stocks.

The surge in U.S. hiring comes after weeks of conflicting signals about the strength of the global economy and the stock market rally.

First came news of falling retail sales in March, then a series of weak manufacturing reports and signs of an economic slowdown in China.

The first-quarter earnings season has been mixed, too. Though earnings have been higher than expected, many companies have reported little or no revenue growth, which has spooked investors.

Investors have also worried that higher Social Security payroll taxes and sweeping government spending cuts that took effect earlier this year will slow U.S. economic growth, and hurt on corporate profits.

Friday's jobs numbers suggested the private sector might be strong enough to overcome those various obstacles.

In its report, the government revised up its estimate of job gains in February and March to 332,000 in February and 138,000 in March. The economy has created an average of 208,000 jobs a month from November through April — above the 138,000 added in the previous six months.

Among stocks making big moves:

— Gilead Sciences jumped $3.30 to $55.47, a gain of 6.3 percent. The maker of HIV drugs reported a 63 percent surge in income in the first quarter thanks to lower costs and increased sales.

— Kraft Foods rose $2.97 to $53.50, an increase of 6 percent. The food maker reported first-quarter income and revenue that beat the forecasts of Wall Street analysts as it increased sales and cut costs following its split from its global snack business.

— LinkedIn, the professional networking social media site, plunged 10 percent, or $20.13, to $181.54. The company issued a revenue forecast for the rest of the year that was well below what financial analysts were expecting, suggesting that its long streak of investors could end. LinkedIn went public in May 2011 at $45 a share.

The S&P 500 is up 13 percent from the start of the year. The Dow is up 14 percent.

Stock overseas rose on U.S. jobs report, too. The main indexes in France, Germany, Spain and Brazil rose 1 percent of more. Markets in Japan were closed for a public holiday.

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