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Jobs report and company earnings push stocks broadly higher

FILE- In this May 10, 2018, file photo the opening bell hangs above the trading floor at the New Yor
The opening bell hangs above the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange.
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

A solid jobs report and company earnings spurred U.S. stocks broadly higher Friday, driving the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to its second weekly gain in a row.

The Nasdaq composite hit an all-time high for the second time this week. The benchmark S&P 500 index closed less than 0.1% below the record high it reached Tuesday.

Technology and consumer-focused companies did the most to push the market higher. Stocks in the communications, industrial, financial and healthcare sectors also notched solid gains as traders cheered surprisingly good earnings from United States Steel, Weight Watchers and other companies.

Investors also welcomed the government’s latest snapshot of U.S. employment, which showed that job growth surged in April past economists’ forecasts and unemployment fell to a five-decade low.

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“Overall, this was a solid report that should assuage fears that the U.S. economy is losing momentum,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.

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The S&P 500 index climbed 28.12 points, or 1%, to 2,945.64. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 197.16 points, or 0.7%, to 26,504.95. The Nasdaq composite jumped 127.22 points, or 1.6%, to 8,164.

Smaller-company stocks rose much more than the rest of the market, a bullish sign indicating that investors are more willing to take on risk. The Russell 2000 index advanced 31.37 points, or 2%, to 1,614.02.

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Bond prices rose, sending the yield on the 10-year Treasury down to 2.52% from 2.55%.

Despite a modest pullback midweek, U.S. stocks have extended their impressive recovery this year after their steep slump in late 2018.

The S&P 500 is now up 17.5% for the year. The Nasdaq is doing even better, up 23%.

The Federal Reserve fueled the market’s recovery this year when it signaled that it would take a patient approach to raising interest rates. Traders also have been encouraged by positive data on the U.S. economy and better-than-expected corporate earnings.

First-quarter corporate earnings have come in mixed so far, but good enough to ease worries that company profits would slump overall.

On Friday, United States Steel shares surged 17.3% after it reported a sharp increase in sales that helped lift profit far above Wall Street forecasts.

Newell Brands, which makes Sharpie and Elmer’s products, surged 13.5% on a solid earnings report.

Monster Beverage jumped 8.8% after the energy drinks company powered past analysts’ first-quarter profit forecast. The company reported a solid increase in sales of its namesake energy drink that helped drive a surge in profit.

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Weight Watchers leaped 13% after reporting first-quarter losses that were much slimmer than expected and raising its profit forecast for the year.

Arista Networks, a cloud computing company, dived 10.4% after telling investors that revenue in the current quarter would fall short of forecasts.

Meanwhile, Amazon rose 3.2% after billionaire investor Warren Buffett said his company, Berkshire Hathaway, was buying the stock.

Crude oil prices recovered some of their Thursday losses. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 0.2% to settle at $61.94 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, edged up 0.1% to $70.85 a barrel.

In other commodities trading, wholesale gasoline rose 0.4% to $2.03 a gallon. Heating oil fell 0.4% to $2.07 a gallon. Natural gas fell 0.8% to $2.57 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose 0.7% to $1,281.30 an ounce. Silver climbed 2.5% to $14.98 an ounce. Copper rose 1.4% to $2.82 a pound.

The dollar weakened to 111.09 Japanese yen from 111.50 yen. The euro rose to $1.1194 from $1.1175.


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