Dow, S&P 500 Close At Record Levels After Jobs Report

The Dow and S&P 500 advanced to all-time closing highs on Friday, with major indexes jumping 1 percent after an unexpectedly strong April jobs report eased concerns about an economic slowdown.

The S&P closed above 1,600 and the Dow briefly traded above 15,000 for the first time as stocks extended this year’s rally. Bellwether companies, including Chevron Corp (CVX.N), Boeing Co (BA.N) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), reached 52-week highs.

The Russell 2000 .RUT stock index of mid- and small cap companies also hit a record, confirming the broadness of the rally. About 70 percent of stocks on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq ended in positive territory.

Non-farm payrolls rose by 165,000 last month and the unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent, a four-year low, from 7.6 percent, the government said. In addition, hiring was much stronger than previously thought in February and March.

Investors welcomed the gains after weeks of disappointing data, including tepid manufacturing reports, that suggested the economic recovery was losing steam.

“We were all wringing our hands over the past month but this alleviates fears about a sharp spring slowdown,” said Brad Sorensen, director of market and sector analysis at Charles Schwab in Denver.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 140.61 points, or 0.95 percent, at 14,972.19. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX was up 16.63 points, or 1.04 percent, at 1,614.22. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 38.01 points, or 1.14 percent, at 3,378.63.

Both the Dow and S&P ended at all-time closing highs. For the week, the Dow rose 1.8, the S&P gained 2 percent and the Nasdaq rose 3 percent in its biggest weekly climb since the first week of the year.

Sectors tied to the pace of economic growth and to commodity prices were among the strongest gainers. U.S. Steel Corp (X.N) rose 6.3 percent to $18.14 while WPX Energy Inc (WPX.N) was up 5 percent to $16.56. U.S. crude oil futures rose 1.5 percent to settle at $95.43 a barrel.

“Commodity stocks are outperforming with the jobs number alleviating fears over a slowdown,” said Sorensen. “The group has pulled back over the past months and they got a bit overdone. There are still really good growth opportunities there.”

Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc (FCX.N) closed up 2.6 percent at $31.13, after prices of copper posted the biggest daily gain since late October 2011.

General Electric (GE.N), up 1.1 percent at $22.57, led gains among industrials after it won approval to buy oilfield pump maker Lufkin Industries (LUFK.O) for about $3 billion. The deal will allow GE to sharply increase its presence in the market to extract oil and natural gas from shale.

Gilead Sciences (GILD.O) shares rose 5.7 percent to $55.15 after reaching a record high of $56.35. The world’s largest maker of branded HIV drugs reported a big rise in quarterly profit late on Thursday.

LinkedIn Corp (LNKD.N) shares fell 13 percent to $175.59 a day after the social network reported disappointing revenue forecasts.

Of the 404 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, 68.3 percent have beaten earnings expectations, but only 46.3 percent have reported revenue above expectations. Over the past four quarters, 67 percent of companies beat on earnings and 52 percent beat revenue estimates.

In other economic reports on Friday, U.S. factory orders fell sharply in March while the pace of growth in the vast U.S. services sector eased in April to the slowest pace in nine months.

About 6.33 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, below the daily average so far this year of about 6.36 billion shares.