NEW YORK - Stocks started February with a bang Friday as the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 14,000 for the first time in more than five years. The government's January employment report, which said 157,000 jobs were added last month, boosted all major indexes 1% or more.
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange cheered as the Dow finished Friday up 148 points, 1.1%, to 14,008.33 and is less than 160 points from its all-time closing high of 14,164.53 set Oct. 9, 2007 before the financial meltdown and a recession pulled it sharply lower. Now it looks to be extending a four-year-old bull market.
The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index ended 14.80 points, 1%, to 1,512.91. And the Nasdaq composite index closed up 35.93 points, 1.2%, to 3,178.06.
The Dow Jones industrial average crossed 14,000 several times Friday morning and began gaining steam in afternoon trading. It is the first time the Dow has broken through 14,000 since late 2007. The buying spree was triggered by Friday's release of key economic reports, starting with the January employment jobs and followed by bullish auto sales figures and robust reports on manufacturing, consumer sentiment and construction spending.
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond was at 2%, which it has tiptoed around most of the week. Oil prices continued to rise. The contract price on a barrel of oil traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange was up 4 cents to $97.53. Earlier in the week, the price had been above $98 -- for the first time in months.
Gold prices were higher, up $8.50, or 0.5%, to $1,670.50. In currency trading, the euro was trading up 0.6% against the dollar at 1.367, while the greenback was trading up 1% against the Japanese yen at 92.73.
Before the January employment report was released Friday morning, economists had expected payrolls to increase by about 160,000, on target with the government's figures. However, the job creation wasn't even strong enough to keep the unemployment rate steady. It ticked up to 7.9% from 7.8% last month.
On Thursday, the major U.S. stock indexes drifted lower, backing away from new highs. At the close, the Dow lost 0.43%, the S&P 500 shed 0.3% and the Nasdaq composite index reversed course late in the trading session and ended down less than a point.
The Dow gained 5.8% in January and the S&P 500 jumped 5.1% for the month. Both indexes are within shouting distance of setting all-time highs although it may be months before the records are broken.
Asian stock markets were mixed Friday, although losses were stanched by Wall Street's overall sterling performance for January.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index, meanwhile, was once again energized by the yen's continued descent against the dollar. It rose 0.5% to 11,191.
In Europe, major stock indexes in Britain, France and Germany ended the week higher, boosted by investor reaction to the jobs report.