US stocks rise slightly on healthy jobs data, adding to strong gains posted this week

Markets Associated Press

U.S. stocks advanced modestly in early trading Friday, adding to the mammoth gains already posted this week, as investors cheered data that showed employers hired more Americans and employee wages are growing.

Continue Reading Below

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 12 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,893 as of 9:50 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose a point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,063 and the Nasdaq composite fell six points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,760.

The Dow is up 4.3 percent just this week, its biggest weekly gain since 2011, while the S&P 500 is up 3.5 percent this week, its best since October.

JOBS, JOBS, JOBS: U.S. employers added 257,000 jobs in January and wages jumped by the most in six years, evidence that the job market is closer to full health. The gain was far better than the 230,000 jobs economists had expected.

Adding to the strong report were revisions that showed hiring was far stronger in November and December than previously estimated. Workers' wages, which have been mostly stagnant since the recession, rose at the fastest pace since 2008.

"The January employment report was strong across the board," said Michelle Girard, an economy at RBS Securities, in a note to clients. "While benchmark and seasonal factor revisions affect many of the month-to-month changes, even looking through that noise, the data were clearly very healthy."

Continue Reading Below

GREECE MEETING: Greece remains a key focus in financial markets as the new Greek government tries to forge a deal on the country's debts with its partners in the 19-country eurozone. On Friday, it was confirmed that finance ministers of the so-called Eurogroup are to hold a special meeting next Wednesday to discuss Greece's debts, a day ahead of a summit of European Union leaders. Greek shares were down Friday amid ongoing jitters over how the discussions will pan out. The Athens stock index fell 3 percent.

TAKING FLIGHT: Twitter rose $6.11, or 15 percent, to $47.37 after the company reported revenue that beat analysts' expectations. User growth was slower than expected, but with expanded advertising options showed the social media company is able to make more money from the users it already has.

PLAYING OFFENSE: Military contractor Harris rose $7.95, or 11 percent, to $77.33 after the company announced it would buy competitor Exelis for $4.4 billion, or $23.75 a share. Exelis jumped 37 percent to 24.20 a share, a sign that investors believe a bidding war might start for the company.

OIL REBOUND: Oil prices extended their gains Friday, with the benchmark New York rate up $1.09 at $51.62 a barrel. Brent, the international standard, was up $1.60 at $58.19 a barrel.

BONDS: U.S. government bond prices fell and yields rose as investors anticipated that strong jobs report could mean higher interest rates and faster economic growth. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.89 percent from 1.81 percent.