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Stocks Rally On Upbeat Jobs Data, Nasdaq Reached Record High - U.S. Commentary


Stocks have moved mostly higher in morning trading on Friday, adding to the gains posted in the previous session. The major averages have climbed firmly into positive territory, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq reaching a new record intraday high.

Currently, the major averages are just off their highs of the session. The Dow is up 249.53 points or 1 percent at 25,144.74, the Nasdaq is up 80.20 points or 1.1 percent at 7,508.15 and the S&P 500 is up 26.97 points or 1 percent at 2,765.94.

The rally on Wall Street comes after the Labor Department released a report showing much stronger than expected job growth in February.

The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment surged up by 313,000 jobs in February after jumping by an upwardly revised 239,000 jobs in January.

Economists had expected employment to climb by 200,000 jobs, matching the increase originally reported for the previous month.

Despite the stronger than expected job growth, the unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent in February. The unemployment rate had been expected to dip to 4.0 percent.

The report also said the annual rate of growth in average hourly employee earnings fell to 2.6 percent in February from 2.8 percent in January.

The markets are also benefiting from easing geopolitical concerns amid news President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

In a post on Twitter, Trump said, "Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time."

"Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached," he added. "Meeting being planned!"

Oil service stocks have shown a substantial move to the upside on the day, driving the Philadelphia Oil Service Index up by 2.3 percent.

The rally by oil service stocks comes amid a sharp increase by the price of crude oil, with crude for April delivery surging up $1.03 to $61.15 a barrel.

Significant strength has also emerged among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 1.9 percent gain being posted by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index. With the jump, the index has reached a record intraday high.

Financial, computer hardware, and transportation stocks are also seeing considerable strength, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region saw further upside during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index climbed by 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped by 1.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned mixed on the day. While the German DAX Index has fallen by 0.3 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is just above the unchanged line and the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are showing a notable pullback following the upbeat jobs data. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 4.3 basis points at 2.909 percent.

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