US stocks notch solid gains as job report allays worries

AP – Wall Street ended a choppy week of trading with a broad rally that drove the Dow Jones Industrial Average more than 370 points higher.

The gains on Friday also gave the S&P 500 index its best day in seven weeks, though the benchmark index still finished with its third straight weekly loss.

Technology, healthcare and financial stocks powered much of the rally, which was spurred by mixed job market data for September. The report showed that employers are still adding jobs at a healthy clip, albeit more slowly, and that the national unemployment rate dropped to a five-decade low.

The jobs report punctuated a rough week dominated by surprisingly weak numbers in surveys of manufacturing and service industries, which raised recession worries and sent the S&P 500 to its first back-to-back losses of one per cent this year.

“There’s probably some relief this morning that the labour report didn’t confirm or enhance the weakness that we saw out of the two (economic) surveys,” said Senior Investment Director at United States (US) Bank Wealth Management Bill Northey.

The S&P 500 rose 41.38 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 2,952.01. The index finished the week with a 0.3 per cent loss.

The Dow climbed 372.68 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 26,573.72. The Nasdaq composite gained 110.21 points, also 1.4 per cent, to 7,982.47.

Stock markets around the world rose and gold dipped following the release of the US jobs data as investors felt less need for safety.

Employees work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO: AP