Unemployment drop boosts stocks
Unemployment report showing a gain of 216,000 jobs provided a lift for stocks. With unemployment rate at a two-year low, the Dow rose 56 points.
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Stocks ended off the highs of the day as technology slumped, but a surprisingly strong jobs report gave a lift to the market as it ended higher for a second straight week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 56.99 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 12,376.72. The blue-chip index gained 156.13 points, or 1.3 percent, this week, and was up for the second week in a row, rising 4.37 percent.
Caterpillar rose the most on the Dow for the week, gaining nearly 3.7 percent for the week, while Hewlett-Packard fell the most, losing 3.65 percent.
The S&P 500 rose 6.58 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 1,332.41. For the week, the S&P rose 18.61 points this week, or 1.4 percent. The S&P 500 has risen 4.2 percent over the last two weeks.
The Nasdaq gained 8.53 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,789.60 on Friday. For the week, the tech-heavy index gained 46.54 points this week, or 1.7 percent. The Nasdaq has risen 145.93 points, or 5.5 percent, in the past two weeks.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell below 18.
Among key S&P sectors, industrials and consumer staples gained, while technology and telecom fell.
While some investors don't expect the strong showing from the beginning of the year to extend through April, Ryan Detrick, senior technical analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research points out that April has proven to be a very strong month for the last five years, posting returns of more than 4 percent.
"We would not be shocked if we have an upward surprise in earnings season, and that could be a major catalyst to higher prices in April," Detrick sad.
Another technical point in the market's favor: when the S&P 500 rises more than 5 percent in a quarter (like it just did), it's very bullish for April as well as the rest of the year, according to Schaeffer's research, which notes that this has happened only four times since 1987. In these instances, the S&P 500 averages a return of more than 16 percent for the rest of the year, Schaeffer said.