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Major Averages Hovering Firmly In Positive Territory - U.S. Commentary


After moving higher early in the session, stocks have seen further upside over the course of the trading day on Friday. With the upward move on the day, the tech-heavy Nasdaq has reached a new record intraday high.

The major averages have moved roughly sideways in recent trading, hovering firmly in positive territory. The Dow is up 266.91 points or 1.1 percent at 25,162.12, the Nasdaq is up 89.91 points or 1.2 percent at 7,517.86 and the S&P 500 is up 29.13 points or 1.1 percent at 2,768.10.

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!"

The meeting between Trump and Kim would be the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

Sector News

Oil service stocks continue to see substantial strength in mid-day trading, resulting in a 2.5 percent jump by the Philadelphia Oil Service Index.

The rally by oil service stocks comes amid a sharp increase by the price of crude oil, as crude for April delivery is surging up $1.67 to $61.79 a barrel.

Considerable strength also remains visible among financial stocks, with the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index and the KBW Bank Index advancing by 2 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.

Computer hardware and semiconductor stocks are also turning in strong performances, helping lift the Nasdaq to a record high.

Most of the other major sectors have also moved to the upside on the day, with transportation, biotechnology and chemical stocks seeing notable strength.

Other Markets

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 turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have climbed off their worst levels but continue to see moderate weakness. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 2.8 basis points at 2.894 percent.

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