By Yashaswini Swamynathan (Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose on Friday amid broad-based gains as a stellar jobs report underscored the strength of the economy, potentially giving the Federal Reserve enough ammunition to raise interest rates next week. Data showed 235,000 jobs were added in the public and private sectors in February, blowing past economists’ average estimate of 190,000. The number of jobs created in January was revised up to 238,000. Unemployment rate edged down to 4.7 percent, while average earnings rose 0.2 percent in February. “This report is consistent with an exceedingly healthy labor backdrop and, I think more critically, it’s a number that will embolden the Fed to raise rates in March,” said Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York. At 9:37 a.m. ET (1437 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 59.56 points, or 0.29 percent, at 20,917.75, the S&P 500 was up 9.47 points, or 0.40 percent, at 2,374.34 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 27.04 points, or 0.46 percent, at 5,865.85. All of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with technology providing the biggest boost. The odds of a rate hike at the Fed’s meeting next week rose to 92 percent after the report, according to Thomson Reuters data. Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s conference on March 15 following the two-day meeting will be closely watched for clues on the pace of future rate hikes. In the 49 days of Donald Trump’s presidency, the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke above 21,000 points and the S&P 500 crossed $20 trillion in market value on bets that he would usher in an era of tax cuts, simpler regulations and higher infrastructure spending. However, the lack of detail on Trump’s plans has raised questions about valuations and taken the heat off the post-election rally. “The onus is now on our policymaking friends in Washington to deliver,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM US LLP in New York. Shares of Alexandria Real Estate Equities were off 4.7 percent at $108.36 after the REIT priced an offering of 6.1 million shares at $108.55 per share – a 4.5 percent discount to its Thursday close. Finisar Corp dropped 17 percent to $29.11 after the network equipment maker issued disappointing revenue and profit forecasts for the current quarter. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,194 to 433. On the Nasdaq, 1,760 issues rose and 500 fell. The S&P 500 index showed 29 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 44 new highs and nine new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)
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