Wall Street inches higher; jobs data points to economic strength | Reuters

By Caroline Valetkevitch

U.S. stocks were up slightly on Friday afternoon after a solid jobs report pointed to strength in the domestic economy and supported expectations the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next week.The S&P 500 was still on track to end down for the week, which would break its six-week streak of gains.Data showed 235,000 jobs were added in the public and private sectors in February, far exceeding economists' average estimate of 190,000.Fed Chair Janet Yellen signalled last week the U.S. central bank is set to raise rates this month if employment and other economic data hold up. The Fed meets March 14-15.The S&P financial index .SPSY, which has risen sharply on prospect of further rate hikes, was down 0.1 percent on Friday, though.

Investors are preparing for the next hike, but "we think a lot that has already been priced in," said Eric Marshall, portfolio manager and Director of Research at Hodges Capital Management in Dallas, Texas.With inflation edging closer to the Fed's 2 percent target, traders were pricing in a 92 percent chance of a rate increase at the Fed Open Market Committee's meeting next week, up from 85 percent before the data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 34.32 points, or 0.16 percent, to 20,892.51, the S&P 500 .SPX had gained 5.11 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,369.98 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC had added 14.65 points, or 0.25 percent, to 5,853.46.

The Nasdaq was also on track to break a six-week winning streak. Friday marked the 50th day of Donald Trump's U.S. presidency. Since he took office, the Dow has broken above 21,000 points and the S&P 500 has crossed $20 trillion in market value on bets he would usher in an era of tax cuts, simpler regulations and higher infrastructure spending.

Still, the lack of detail on Trump's plans has raised questions about valuations and tempered the post-election rally. AbbVie (ABBV.N) rose 2.5 percent and provided the biggest boost to the S&P 500 after Goldman Sachs issued an upbeat report on the drugmaker.Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.68-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.40-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.The S&P 500 posted 40 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 78 new highs and 30 new lows. (Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

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Published Date: Mar 11, 2017 02:18 am | Updated Date: Mar 11, 2017 02:18 am

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