Stocks head higher after strong jobs report; tech leads

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are higher Friday afternoon as industrial and technology companies move up after a strong February jobs report, but losses for energy companies and banks are limiting the gains overall. The Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates next week following...

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are higher Friday afternoon as industrial and technology companies move up after a strong February jobs report, but losses for energy companies and banks are limiting the gains overall. The Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates next week following the solid employment report.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,370 as of 2:45 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 38 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,896. The Nasdaq composite added 15 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,854.

Stocks have mostly fallen since March 1, the day indexes soared to their most recent record highs. That's the last day the S&P 500 rose more than 0.1 percent. The S&P 500 is on track to break a six-week winning streak. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks picked up 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,363, but it's on pace for its biggest weekly loss since the end of October.

HIGHER HIRING: U.S. employers added 235,000 jobs in February, more than analysts had expected, according to the Labor Department. The gains in hiring and pay, along with higher consumer and business confidence since the November election, could lift spending and investment in coming months and accelerate economic growth.

Investors expected the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, and a poor jobs report might have been the last thing that could have prevented that. ADP release a strong private payroll survey earlier this week, but Labor Department data covers public as well as private hiring.

THE QUOTE: "It was a solid report all around that reinforces that the economy is on solid footing," said Sameer Samana, strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute. Samana said investors are glad to see continued hiring and more people seeking work, but they're also glad the economy isn't gaining strength too quickly. That might force the Fed to raise interest rates faster, with uncertain effects on the economy.

"If they go too quickly or raise rates too many times, there's a risk we'll find ourselves in a downturn," he said.

POWER PLAY: Technology companies climbed thanks in part to gains for chipmakers. Applied Materials gained 63 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $38.02 and Broadcom rose $3.20, or 1.4 percent, to $225.21. Texas Instruments picked up $1.31, or 1.7 percent, to $80.44.

General Electric climbed 71 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $30.37 as it lead industrial companies higher. Engine maker Cummins added $2.45, or 1.6 percent, to $151.29 and industrial equipment and software maker Rockwell Automation gained $2.19, or 1.4 percent, to $154.37.

BEAUTIFUL DAY: Beauty products retailer Ulta climbed after it reported a bigger profit and stronger sales than analysts had expected. The stock gained $11.46, or 4.2 percent, to $285.23 and it's up 75 percent over the last year. Competitor Estee Lauder gained $2.78, or 3.4 percent, to $85.66.

Meanwhile Zumiez became the latest clothing retailer to take a steep loss as analysts worried about its sales projections. The company said its sales declined in February, and its forecasts for the first quarter came up short of estimates. The stock fell $2.95, or 14 percent, to $18.05.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.58 percent from 2.61 percent. The dip in bond yields pushed banks lower while some big-dividend stocks went higher. Those included utilities, phone companies and makers of everyday household goods. AT&T picked up 39 cents to $42.33 and Staples rose 17 cents, or 2 percent, to $8.66. Along the way Staples recovered much of its loss from the day before.

OIL: Oil prices moved lower for the fifth day in a row. Benchmark U.S. oil dipped another 79 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $48.49 a barrel in New York. After small losses early in the week, the price of U.S. crude dropped 9 percent over the last three days after the government reported a big increase in stockpiles. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 82 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $51.37 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 114.82 yen from 114.74 yen. The euro rose to $1.0687 from $1.0586.

METALS: Gold fell $1.80 to $1,201.40 an ounce. That small decline was the ninth in a row for the precious metal. Silver slipped 11 cents to $16.92 an ounce. Copper gained 2 cents to $2.60 a pound.

OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline gave up 2 cents to $1.60 a gallon. Heating oil shed 3 cents to $1.50 a gallon. Natural gas gained 3 cents to $3 per 1,000 cubic feet.

OVERSEAS: The CAC 40 in France rose 0.4 percent and the FTSE 100 index in Britain picked up 0.2 percent. Germany's DAX dipped 0.1 percent. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.5 percent as the dollar surged against the yen, favoring manufacturers. South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 percent and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng index added 0.3 percent.

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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

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