A surge in hiring last month lifted U.S. stocks on Friday, with the Nasdaq index hitting an 11-year high, as the data boosted hopes the world's largest economy has turned a corner.

The broad-based gains also sent the Dow Jones industrial near a four-year high. The S&P 500 extended its 2012 advance to about 7 percent.

More than 450 stocks across all sectors hit 52-week highs, including Apple , United Parcel Service , Yum Brands and MasterCard .

The U.S. economy created jobs at the fastest pace in nine months in January and the unemployment rate dropped to nearly a three-year low of 8.3 percent, the government said.

This is a continuation of a grinding but measurable improvement in the U.S. data, said Stephen Wood, chief market strategist at Russell Investments in New York.

He said there are still risks, like the European debt crisis, but to the extent the market has the time or luxury to focus on the U.S. economy, this is a modestly positive environment for U.S. equities.

Consumer discretionary shares and other stocks tied to an expanding economy led gains. Financial shares <.GSPF> rose 2.3 percent, while industrials <.GSPI> and discretionaries <.GSPD> added 1.6 percent.

In another report signaling strength, the pace of growth in the services sector unexpectedly accelerated in January to its highest level in nearly a year.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 148.12 points, or 1.17 percent, to 12,853.53. The S&P 500 Index <.SPX> gained 17.48 points, or 1.32 percent, to 1,343.02. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 44.10 points, or 1.54 percent, to 2,903.78.

So far this week the S&P is up 2 percent and on track for its fifth week of gains in a row. The Dow has risen 1.5 percent and the Nasdaq, also set for a fifth straight winning week, is up 3 percent, heading for the best week since early December.

On the NYSE, more than four stocks rose for each one that fell and on the Nasdaq a little less than four stocks rose for each decliner.

More than half way through the earnings season, 60 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported have beaten expectations

according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data.

Gilead Sciences was one of the top gainers on the S&P 500, up 8.8 percent to $53.65 a day after announcing promising early results from a trial of a hepatitis C drug. It also posted adjusted fourth-quarter profit below consensus.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Kenneth Barry)