NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are inching higher Friday morning after the U.S. government said employers added more jobs than expected in February, the latest sign of strength for the economy. Mining companies are rising along with metals prices, and drugmakers are struggling again. The market is still on track for its third weekly gain in a row.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 37 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,981 as of 10:44 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added four points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,997. The Nasdaq composite rose three points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,710. Stocks have ended higher the last two days after late-day rallies erased early losses.
JOBS REPORT: The Labor Department said employers added 242,000 jobs in February as construction, retail and health care companies kept hiring more workers. Consumer demand was solid, and the government also said employers hired more people in December and January than it had previously estimated. More people also looked for work. However, worker pay slipped last month after accelerating in January.
This week stocks have risen following reports that show the U.S. economy is doing fairly well, including data on construction spending and manufacturing.
BIG SCREEN GETS BIGGER: AMC Theaters, owned by Wanda Group of China, is buying Carmike Cinemas for $1.1 billion. The deal will create the biggest movie theater chain in the world. Earlier this year, Wanda said it would buy Legendary Entertainment, a studio that co-financed movies including "Jurassic World" and "The Dark Knight." Carmike climbed $4.19, or 16.7 percent, to $29.30.
METALS: Metals prices kept climbing. Gold rose 1 percent to $1,266 an ounce and silver jumped 3 percent to $15.62 an ounce. Copper rose 2.5 percent to $2.26 a pound.
Copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan gained 76 cents, or 8.3 percent, to $9.87 and aluminum producer Alcoa rose 76 cents, or 8.3 percent, to 9.84. Gold miner Newmont Mining added 57 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $27.39.
HP HIGH POINT: Hewlett Packard Enterprise, an information technology products and service company, reported a stronger profit and greater sales than analysts had expected. Its stock surged $1.99, or 14.7 percent, to $15.59.
TAXED: H&R Block tumbled after its quarterly profit and revenue disappointed investors. The company said people are filing their taxes later and refunds are taking longer to process as efforts to fight tax fraud increase. The stock dropped $5.29, or 16.1 percent, to $27.61.
HEALTH SCARE: Multiple sclerosis drug maker Biogen lost $3.10 to $265.54 and drug and health care products company Endo International slid $1.06, or 2.5 percent, to $42.11.
STAPLED: Staples lost 21 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $9.66 after the office supply chain's profit and sales were weaker than expected.
OIL: The price of U.S. crude oil rose 28 cents to $34.85 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, rose 36 cents to $37.43 a barrel. While U.S. oil is still down significantly this year, Brent, the international standard, is a bit higher than it was at the beginning of the year.
U.S. oil prices are also on track to rise for the third week in a row, which hasn't happened since May.
OVERSEAS: Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.5 percent and France's CAC 40 rose 0.4 percent. Germany's DAX was up 0.1 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed 0.3 percent higher and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.2 percent. South Korea's Kospi edged 0.1 percent lower.
CURRENCIES: Bond prices dipped and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.89 percent from 1.84 percent. The euro rose to $1.0995 from $1.0959 the day before while the dollar edged up to 113.90 yen from 113.57 yen.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP
His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay