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NEW YORK (AP) — Led by technology companies, U.S. stocks rose Friday after a strong February jobs report. Most parts of the market moved higher as investors wait for the Federal Reserve to meet next week. The central bank is almost universally expected to raise interest rates.
The jobs report was a bit better than investors expected, but they had assumed it would show employers are adding jobs at a solid clip. They had also anticipated since last week that the Fed will raise interest rates next Wednesday, and the data did nothing to challenge that. Technology, industrial and health care companies climbed while energy companies missed out on the rally as oil prices continued to fall.
"It was a solid report all around that reinforces that the economy is on solid footing," said Sameer Samana, a strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute. Samana said investors are glad to see continued hiring and more people seeking work, but they're also glad the economy isn't gaining strength too quickly. That might force the Fed to raise interest rates faster, with uncertain effects on the economy.
"If they go too quickly or raise rates too many times, there's a risk we'll find ourselves in a downturn," he said.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 7.73 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,372.60. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 44.79 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,902.98. The Nasdaq composite added 22.92 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,861.73.
Stocks had mostly fallen since March 1, the day indexes soared to their most recent record highs.
Overall it was a slow week for stocks. The current bull market had its eighth anniversary, but six-week winning streaks for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended, and the Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks took its biggest loss in three months.
U.S. employers added 235,000 jobs in February, according to the Department of Labor. The gains in hiring and pay, along with higher consumer and business confidence since the November election, could lift spending and investment in coming months and accelerate economic growth.
A poor jobs report was probably the last thing that could have stopped the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates next week.
Technology companies climbed thanks in part to gains for chipmakers. Applied Materials gained 74 cents, or 2 percent, to $38.12 and Broadcom rose $4.34, or 2 percent, to $226.35. Texas Instruments picked up $1.20, or 1.5 percent, to $80.33.
General Electric climbed 62 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $30.28 to lead industrial companies higher. Engine maker Cummins added $2.66, or 1.8 percent, to $151.50 and industrial equipment and software maker Rockwell Automation gained $2.13, or 1.4 percent, to $154.31.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.58 percent from 2.61 percent. The dip in bond yields and interest rates pushed banks lower while big-dividend stocks went higher. Those included utilities, phone companies and makers of everyday household goods. AT&T picked up 41 cents, or 1 percent, to $42.35 and Colgate-Palmolive rose 89 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $72.46.
Beauty products retailer Ulta climbed after it reported a bigger profit and stronger sales than analysts had expected. The stock gained $12.65, or 4.6 percent, to $286.42 and it's up 75 percent over the last year. Competitor Estee Lauder gained $2.78, or 3.4 percent, to $85.66.
Oil prices moved lower for the fifth day in a row. Benchmark U.S. oil dipped another 79 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $48.49 a barrel in New York. After small losses early in the week, the price of U.S. crude dropped 9 percent over the last three days after the government reported a big increase in stockpiles. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 82 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $51.37 a barrel in London.
Meanwhile Zumiez became the latest clothing retailer to take a steep loss as analysts worried about its sales projections. The company said its sales declined in February, and its forecasts for the first quarter came up short of estimates. The stock fell $2.60, or 12.4 percent, to $18.40.
The dollar inched up to 114.78 yen from 114.74 yen. The euro rose to $1.0692 from $1.0586.
Gold fell $1.80 to $1,201.40 an ounce. That small decline was the ninth in a row for the precious metal. Silver slipped 11 cents to $16.92 an ounce. Copper gained 2 cents to $2.60 a pound.
In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline gave up 2 cents to $1.60 a gallon. Heating oil shed 3 cents to $1.50 a gallon. Natural gas gained 3 cents to $3 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The CAC 40 in France rose 0.4 percent and the FTSE 100 index in Britain picked up 0.2 percent. Germany's DAX dipped 0.1 percent. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.5 percent as the dollar surged against the yen, favoring manufacturers. South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 percent and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng index added 0.3 percent.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay
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