By BERNARD CONDON
NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Optimism about the economy swept through the stock market Friday, pushing two widely watched indexes past major milestones.
After weeks of mixed signals about manufacturing and earnings, a surprisingly strong U.S. jobs report gave investors confidence that the economy isn't about to falter. The market jumped from the opening bell. Traders donned party hats, and a wave of buying helped the Standard and Poor's 500 index crack the 1,600 mark for the first time. The Dow Jones industrial average broke through 15,000.
"There's euphoria today," said Stephen Carl, the head equity trader at The Williams Capital Group. "That's what you'd have to call it."On the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, brokers sported baseball caps emblazoned with "Dow 15,000." Jobs are crucial to keeping the stock market climbing. Big U.S. companies are making record profits, but much of that has come from cutting costs, not boosting sales. More jobs, and more consumer spending, would help. U.S. employers added 165,000 workers last month and many more in February and March than previously estimated. The unemployment rate fell to the lowest level in four years, 7.5 percent. The Dow rose 142.38 points to close at a record 14,973.96, up 1 percent. The S&P 500 index climbed 16.83 points, or 1 percent, to 1,614.42, also a record. "We're breaking through psychological barriers and that will continue to bring investors off the sidelines," said Darrell Cronk, regional chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank. He called the jobs news "wonderful." Cronk, like many others on Wall Street, has been watching individual investors for signs they may finally have shed their fear of stocks. A surge in buying from them would help push stocks higher. But individuals pulled more money out of stock mutual funds than they put in late last month, a reversal from the trend earlier this year, according to the Investment Company Institute.