NEW YORK -- U.S. stock indexes ended more than 1 percent higher Friday after strong jobs data indicated U.S. economic growth was picking up momentum, but not enough to raise concerns about an earlier-than-expected interest-rate rise by the Federal Reserve.
U.S. job growth rebounded last month and the unemployment rate dropped to a near seven-year low, suggesting underlying strength in the economy at the start of the second quarter after growth hit a soft patch in the first.
%VIRTUAL-pullquote-The market loved the jobs report. Couldn't have been better.%"The market loved the jobs report. Couldn't have been better," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago. "It wasn't a strong enough number to prompt any concern by the Fed."
Nonfarm payrolls in April increased by 223,000, just below expectations, while the unemployment rate dropped despite more people entering the job market. Tempering that good news, March payrolls were revised downwards to show only 85,000 jobs created, the fewest since June 2012.
"The revision to last month is certainly significant. I think this is consistent with most of the data that has been coming out. The economy is slowing a bit, job creation is slowing a little bit," said Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners in New York.
Capping off a week of choppy trading that saw investors fretting about valuations and increasingly focused on interest rates, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 267.05 points, or 1.5 percent, to end at 18,191.11.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) gained 28.10 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,116.10 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 58 points, or 1.2 percent, to 5,003.55.
The last time all three indexes gained more than 1 percent in a session was on May 1.
For the week, the Dow was up 0.9 percent, the S&P 500 was up 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq was down fractionally.
Boosting Interest Rates
For six years, ultra-low borrowing costs have fueled stock gains and market participants have wondered how the U.S. market, which is trading at historically expensive valuations, will fare once the Fed begins raising interest rates.
The S&P 500 is trading at 17 times expected earnings, compared to its 10-year median average of 15, according to StarMine data.
The Dow is 0.5 percent short of its all-time high close set in early March and the S&P 500 is 0.1 percent below its record high close set in April. The Nasdaq is 1.7 percent lower than its record close on April 24.
Next week, labor expenses will be a key focus as big retailers, including Macy's (M), Nordstrom (JWN) and Kohl's (KSS) post quarterly results.
On Friday, all the 10 major S&P 500 sectors posted strong gains, led by a 1.62 percent jump in the health index.
Microsoft (MSFT) rose 2.3 percent to close at $47.75 after Reuters reported that the company wasn't weighing an offer for Salesforce.com. Salesforce.com (CRM) fell 2.9 percent to $72.40.
AOL (AOL) surged 10.2 percent to end at $43.42 after reporting revenue above analyst expectations.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,468 to 604, for a 4.09-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,737 issues rose and 1,023 fell for a 1.70-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 23 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq composite recorded 71 new highs and 42 new lows.
About 6.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.8 billion daily average for the last five sessions, according to BATS Global Markets.
8 Fun, Inexpensive Group Activities for You and Your Friends
Market Wrap: Stocks Leap as Wall Street Applauds Job Growth
Ask everyone to bring their favorite movie from their childhood and enjoy a movie marathon down memory lane with classics like "The Goonies," "Clueless "and "Empire Records."
Or declare a theme of movies "so bad they're good." You know the type -- you groan at how awful they are, but you also have a ton of fun making snarky comments to your friends about how awful they are. Some suggestions to start you out: "Sharknado," "The Room" and "Miami Connection."
Stop oohing and aahing over all those awesome crafts on Pinterest and make some yourselves. Find a craft on Pinterest everyone can enjoy, or just buy a whole bunch of random art supplies and see who can make the most Pin-worthy creation from them. Create your own board to display your works of art-the good, the bad and the ugly.
Call up your local theaters and ask if they have any openings for volunteer ushers. This is not only an easy gig, it's also a great way to see a play or musical for free, while supporting the arts community and potentially making new friends.
All you have to do is dress nicely, guide people to their seats before the show, hand out brochures and direct the audience members to the restrooms if they ask you. Then you get to sit back and enjoy the show with everyone else cost-free, whether it's a quirky local play or a Broadway showstopper.
You don't have be particularly talented to participate in a flash mob; your mob could do anything from a choreographed dance routine to freezing in place in a crowded public area.
You can organize your own mob via Facebook, Twitter and other online platforms, or you can join one in the planning stages by Googling "flash mob" and the name of your town. Whether your flash mob winds up a YouTube sensation or an epic fail, you'll be sure to create some great memories you and your friends can talk about for years.
This game goes by many names. The classic comic strip "Calvin & Hobbes" dubbed it "Calvinball." On the hit show "New Girl," it's called "True American." The rules are simple: The only rules are the ones you make up, and the wackier, the better.
You likely played this as a child, coming up with rules on the fly like "the floor is hot lava" or "you can only throw the ball with your left hand, unless you throw it backwards." Now that you're grown up, step things up a notch by throwing in trivia, memory challenges and perhaps an affordable adult beverage or two.
Stop watching HGTV to voyeur into the houses of the rich and opulent. Instead, see these houses in real life!
There's no rule that says you need to be interested in buying a home to hit up its open house. Nobody will prequalify you; in fact, it's common for neighbors to stroll into open houses just to scope out the other homes on their block. Don your best "Real Housewives" outfits and tour the insides of some of those houses you always ogle as you drove past.
One critical rule for this activity: Do not take the real estate agent's time away from actual interested buyers. If the agent asks you any questions, be honest: just tell them you're simply looking and that you're not interested in buying. Don't be disruptive, don't be messy, and don't take up anyone else's time or energy. Otherwise, though, have fun!
Geocaching is a scavenger hunt for the digital age. "Caches," or small waterproof containers, are hidden in various locations throughout the world, and geocachers must track them down using GPS coordinates and sometimes clues. Most caches contain logbooks that let you record you've found them; some have small rewards or gifts you're allowed to take if you leave an item of your own behind.
It can be a fun way to play detective and explore parts of your area you haven't been to before. Check out Geocaching.com or Google "geocaching" plus your town's name to find caches near you.