US stocks rise as jobs report boosts rate-hike odds

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.2 per cent to end the week at 20,902.98.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.2 per cent to end the week at 20,902.98.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks rose on Friday (March 10) following a solid US jobs report that solidified expectations the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next week.

US employers added a net 235,000 new positions in February, well above analyst forecasts, as unemployment dipped a tenth of a point to 4.7 per cent. The report also showed a 0.2 per cent increase in average hourly earnings.

Analysts said the report boosted the already-elevated odds the Fed will increase the benchmark lending rate on March 15.

The jobs data virtually guarantees higher interest rates "barring an asteroid strike on Washington," said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.2 per cent to end the week at 20,902.98.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 0.3 per cent to close at 2,372.61, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.4 per cent to 5,861.73.

Stocks with larger gains included General Electric, up 2.1 per cent, and Caterpillar, which gained 1 per cent after suffering declines earlier in the week.

Cosmetics retailer Ulta Beauty rose 4.6 per cent after reporting a 30 per cent increase in fourth quarter earnings to US$140.2 million (S$197 million).

Petroleum producers were mixed as US oil prices fell again, ending at their lowest level since November. Chevron rose 0.5 per cent, but ConocoPhillips lost 1.7 per cent.