Stocks shot up on Friday, pushing the S&P 500 to a 10-month high, as stronger-than-expected July non-farm payroll data underpinned hopes that the economy was on track for recovery.

The data boosted stocks across the board, including retailers, and kept the market on track for a fourth week of gains. An S&P retail index <.RLX> was up 3.4 percent,

Financials also were up sharply, with the KBW Banks index <.BKX> up 3.6 percent. Dow component JPMorgan Chase & Co gained 3.8 percent to $42.28.

The jobs report was much better than expected and has emboldened buyers to continue buying, said Michael James, senior trader at regional investment bank Wedbush Morgan in Los Angeles. The direction continues to be improvement.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell in July for the first time in 15 months as employers cut 247,000 jobs, fewer than the 320,000 expected.

Adding to the positive tone, American International Group Inc surged 21.4 percent to $27.34 after posting its first quarterly profit in seven quarters.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 132.56 points, or 1.43 percent, to 9,388.82. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 14.99 points, or 1.50 percent, to 1,012.07. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> climbed 30.15 points, or 1.53 percent, to 2,003.31.

AIG's stronger-than-expected results reassured investors that the embattled insurer, rescued by U.S. taxpayers during the financial crisis, was showing signs of life. At Thursday's close, the stock was up nearly 70 percent since the beginning of the week.

Retailers rose for a second day, despite reporting on Thursday their 11th straight month of sales declines.

The housing sector also advanced, with the Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index <.DJUSHB> up 5.5 percent.

The move came a day after Beazer Homes USA Inc reported a third-quarter loss that was narrower than expected, and after Goldman Sachs added D.R. Horton Inc to its conviction buy list.

Beazer shares rose 16.9 percent to $3.87, while D.R. Horton's stock climbed 7.3 percent to $13.45.

Among Nasdaq advancers, graphics chipmaker Nvidia Corp rose 4.8 percent to $13.75 a day after it forecast third-quarter revenue above expectations.

The S&P 500 is now up about 50 percent from its 12-year closing low in early March, helped by a string of economic data that has suggested a recovery, along with a majority of S&P 500 companies beating analysts' earnings estimates.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Jan Paschal)