Dow closes more than 700 points higher as investors cheer jobs data, Powell comments

U.S. stocks staged a major rally to close out the week, more than erasing Thursday’s sharp losses after a better-than-expected jobs report showed employers adding new personnel at a robust pace.

Also bolstering sentiment were remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

What are major indexes doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +3.29% rose 746.94 points, or 3.3%, to 23,433.16, while the S&P 500 index SPX, +3.43% advanced 84.05 points, or 3.4%, to 2,531.94. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +4.26% advanced 275.35 points, or 4.3%, to 6,738.86.

At session highs, the Dow rose as much as 832.42 points, the S&P 500 90.16 points, while the Nasdaq surged 297.18 points.

Friday’s performance saved markets from what had been the worst start to a year for the Dow and S&P 500 since 2000, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

After Friday’s close, the Dow is up 0.5% on the year, the S&P 500 1%, while the Nasdaq has advanced 1.6% over the first three trading days of 2019.

What’s drove the market?

The U.S. economy added 312,000 new jobs in December, well above expectations for a gain of 182,000, according to a MarketWatch poll of economists. The strong headline number, along with data showing wages grew faster than expected, helped dampen fears that the Federal Reserve is being overly optimistic in its plans to continue raising interest rates in 2019.

Investor optimism was further reinforced by comments by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, who said during a Friday morning appearance that the jobs report didn’t materially increase concerns over rising inflation, while reiterating that the central bank would continue to keep an open mind about how much it will raise interest rates in 2019 and how aggressively it will shrink its balance sheet, based on incoming data about the U.S. and global

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