U.S. stocks rose on Friday as data showed U.S. employers cut fewer jobs than expected last month, offering relief to investors braced for bad labor market news.
February's non-farm employment numbers showed a loss of 36,000 jobs in the month against expectations in a Reuters survey for a loss of 50,000 jobs. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.7 percent, although the impact of inclement weather on the figures was unclear.
Analysts were concerned the severe winter weather that affected large swaths of the country would cause a larger drop in payrolls.
We had been bracing for bad news, and what we got was much better than expected, which suggests we could potentially rebound further in March and April, said Marc Pado, market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald & Co in San Francisco.
This was the number people were fearing, and that we got through it like this is very positive for the long run.
Diversified manufacturer 3M Co
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 81.10 points, or 0.78 percent, to 10,526.45. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 10.88 points, or 0.97 percent, to 1,133.95. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 25.64 points, or 1.12 percent, to 2,317.96.
The Nasdaq was boosted by Apple Inc
The jobs data also provided a boost to commodities, with crude oil hitting a seven-week high. Energy shares <.GSPE> were the strongest performing sector in the S&P index, up 1.6 percent.
Dow components Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp rose, with Chevron
Declining shares included Solarfun Power Holdings
Transatlantic Holdings Inc
For the week, major indexes are up more than 2 percent, with the Nasdaq up more than 3 percent, headed for its strongest weekly gain since October.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)