Dow tops 15,000 for first time on strong US jobs report

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US stocks added to gains on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising above 15,000 for the first time after a strong payrolls report for last month and large upward revisions showed the jobs market is healing despite the sluggish recovery in the overall economy.

The Dow rose 176.4 points, or 1.19 per cent, to 15,007.98, the S&P 500 gained 20.7 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 1,618.29, and the Nasdaq Composite added 46.01 points, or 1.38 per cent, to 3,386.64.

Non-farm payrolls rose 165,000 last month, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent, a four-year low, from 7.6 per cent, the Labour Department said. In addition, hiring was much stronger than previously thought in the prior two months.

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

"This is the type of data that people then begin to look through some of the noise that is in the ISM data, or the PMI data," said Mr Darrell Cronk, regional chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank in New York. "When the labour markets are firming up, they feel better about that."

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

Wall Street was on track to end the week about 2 per cent higher. On Thursday, Wall Street rallied after data showing US weekly jobless claims dropped to a five-year low. Also helping was the European Central Bank's decision to cut to its benchmark interest rate to spur growth in the euro zone's economy.