Stock-index futures rise on better-than-expected jobs numbers

U.S. stocks headed higher at the start of trade Friday, as investors cheered a solid jobs report and upbeat comments on prospects for a U.S.-China trade.

What are indexes doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.21% rose 44 points, or 0.2%, to 26,427, while the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.30% was up 5 points, or 0.2%, to 2,885. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.37% gained 25 points, or 0.3%, to 7,917.

What’s driving the market?

Stocks rose Friday, following a jobs report that showed the U.S. economy added 196,000 new jobs in the month of March, above consensus expectations of 177,000, according to a MarketWatch poll of economists. The Labor Department’s official measure of unemployment held steady at 3.8%.

Despite what appears to be strong demand for workers, wage growth remained modest, with average hourly earnings rising 4 cents to $27.70, a year-over-year increase of 3.2%, down from 3.4% in February. Wage growth in the 3% range indicates a labor market that is paying workers enough to keep consumer spending strong, while not putting much upward pressure on inflation or downward pressure on corporate profit margins, analysts say.

Read: Hiring speeds up as U.S. economy adds 196,000 jobs in March

Stock-index futures had begun to turn higher late Thursday, after China’s Xinhua News Agency reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a letter to President Donald Trump that substantial progress had been made in U.S.-China trade talks over the past months and called for negotiations to be wrapped up as soon as possible.

Earlier Thursday, Trump said the U.S. and China were “rounding the turn” in lengthy talks and predicted that “something monumental” for both countries could be announced in a matter of weeks.

Trade-related optimism was credited by analysts for helping lift stocks. The Dow rose 166.5

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