Tech Stocks Lead U.S. Indexes Up After February Jobs Report

Specialist Charles Boeddinghaus, left, and trader Kevin Lodewick work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

U.S. stocks are moving higher Friday morning after a strong February jobs report. Technology companies are rising more than the rest of the market, but renewed losses for energy companies are limiting the gains overall. The Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates next week following the strong employment report.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,368 as of 11:15 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 16 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,874. The Nasdaq composite added 14 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,853.

Stocks have mostly fallen since March 1, the day indexes soared to their most recent record highs. That’s the last day the S&P 500 rose more than 0.1 percent.

HIGHER HIRING: U.S. employers added 235,000 jobs in February, more than analysts had expected, according to the Labor Department. 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.

Investors had expected the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, and a poor jobs report might have been the last thing that could have prevented that. ADP released a strong private-payroll survey earlier this week, but Labor Department data covers public as well as private hiring.

THE QUOTE: “It was a solid report all around that reinforces that the economy is on solid footing,” said Sameer Samana, strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute. Samana said that investors are glad to see continued hiring and more people seeking work, but they’re also glad that the economy isn’t gaining strength too quickly. That might have forced 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.

POWER PLAY: Technology companies climbed. IBM added $1.50 to $178.68, and chipmaker Applied Materials gained 60 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $37.98. Chipmaker Broadcom rose $2.75, or 1.2 percent, to $224.76.

Consumer-focused companies also moved higher.

Beauty-products retailer Ulta Salon climbed after it reported a bigger profit and stronger sales than analysts had expected. The stock gained $8.52, or 3.1 percent, to $282.29, and is up 73 percent over the last year. Competitor Estee Lauder gained $2.60, or 3.1 percent, to $85.48.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.60 percent from 2.61 percent.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. oil dipped another 50 cents, or 1 percent, to $48.78 a barrel in New York. The price of U.S. crude dropped more than 7 percent over the last two days after a big increase in stockpiles. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 59 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $51.60 a barrel in London. That pulled energy companies lower.

CURRENCIES: The dollar jumped to 114.96 yen from 114.74 yen. The euro rose to $1.0653 from $1.0586.

OVERSEAS: The CAC 40 in France rose 0.4 percent and the FTSE 100 index in Britain picked up 0.4 percent. Germany’s DAX dipped 0.2 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 the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong added 0.3 percent.