Stocks rally after January jobs report

Staff and wire reports11:18a.m. EST February 1, 2013

Trader Gregory Rowe works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.(Photo: Richard Drew, AP)
Story Highlights

  • Stocks start February with gains; Dow crosses 14,000 briefly
  • January employment report gave stocks a boost
  • Economy added 157,000 jobs last month; jobless rate rises to 7.9%

NEW YORK Ė Stocks started February with a bang Friday after release of the government's monthly employment report, which said 157,000 jobs were added last month.

The Dow Jones industrial average briefly crossed 14,000 for the first time since 2007 when the jobs report was followed by bullish auto sales figures and robust reports on manufacturing, consumer sentiment and construction spending.

In midday trading, the Dow was just two points shy of 14,000. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 0.8% to just over 1,510. And the Nasdaq composite index also was up 0.8% to 3,167.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond was at 1.96%, backing off from 2%, which it has tiptoeing around most of the week. Oil prices also were tamer. Although the contract price of a barrel of oil traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange was up 6 cents to $97.55, earlier in the week the price had been above $98 for the first time in months.

Gold prices were higher, up $10.10, or 0.6%, to $1,672.10. In currency trading, the euro was trading up 0.8% against the dollar at 1.369, while the greenback was trading up 1% against the Japanese yen at 92.63.

Before the January employment report was released Friday morning, economists had expected payrolls to increase by about 160,000, on target with the government's figures. However, the job creation wasn't even strong enough to keep the unemployment rate steady. It ticked up to 7.9% from 7.8% last month.

On Thursday, the major U.S. stock indexes drifted lower, backing away from new highs. At the close, the Dow lost 0.43%, the S&P 500 shed 0.3% and the Nasdaq composite index reversed course late in the trading session and ended down less than a point.

The Dow gained 5.8% in January and the S&P 500 jumped 5.1% for the month. Both indexes are within shouting distance of setting all-time highs although it may be months before the records are broken.

Watch jobs report for inflation clues

Economy steady (and stagnant)

Asian stock markets were mixed Friday, although losses were stanched by Wall Street's overall sterling performance for January.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index, meanwhile, was once again energized by the yen's continued descent against the dollar. It rose 0.5% to 11,191.

In Europe, major stock indexes in Britain, France and Germany were all higher, boosted by investor reaction to the jobs report.

USA TODAY's Kim Hjelmgaard and Adam Shell; The Associated Press