Wall Street edges up on strong jobs data

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US stocks rose slightly on Friday after a robust April jobs report reaffirmed the strength of the labor market, but a drop in IBM weighed on the blue-chip Dow index.

The technology giant's shares tumbled 3.3 per cent to a six-month low of US$153.85 (S$215.18) after Warren Buffett said he sold nearly a third of his stake in the company. The stock was the biggest drag on the Dow and the S&P 500.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 211,000 in April, the Labor Department said, well above the monthly average of 185,000 for this year and a sharp acceleration from a gain of 79,000 in March. The unemployment rate fell to a near 10-year low.

"The market will like this number because there was some concern that the economy was slowing a little bit," said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.

The Federal Reserve was not "giving much credence to some of the slower economic numbers in the first quarter, and this would confirm that view."

The odds of a rate hike in June jumped to 75 per cent, from 70 per cent before the jobs report, according to Thomson Reuters data.

At 9:34 a.m. ET (9:34 p.m Singapore time), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 9.17 points, or 0.04 per cent, at 20,942.3, the S&P 500 was up 4.61 points, or 0.19 per cent, at 2,394.13 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 15.56 points, or 0.26 per cent, at 6,090.90.

All of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, led by a 0.52 per cent gain in utilities.