US stocks extend gains after key jobs report

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New York, March 5 (IANS) The US stocks traded in a narrow range on Friday, as investors digested the newly-released jobs report for indications of the economic conditions and the course of the US Federal Reserve’s monetary policy.

By noon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 54.41 points, or 0.32 percent, to 16,998.31. The S&P 500 gained 6.96 points, or 0.35 percent, to 2,000.36. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 14.01 points, or 0.30 percent, to 4,721.44, Xinhua news agency reported.

Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 242,000 in February, topping market expectations, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9 percent, the US Labour Department announced on Friday.

In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls declined 3 cents to $25.35, following an increase of 12 cents in January. Average hourly earnings have risen by 2.2 percent over the year.

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Analysts said the upbeat jobs data pointed to a modest recovery in the US economy, and create conditions for the Fed to gradually raise interest rates this year.

“Lots of poor quality jobs might encourage the Fed to raise rate, but falling wages and hours should keep them at bay in March at least,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial.

The goods and services deficit was $45.7 billion in January, up $1 billion from the revised level of $44.7 billion in December, the US Commerce Department reported on Friday.

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