Investors jumped into the market to grab up stocks this morning after sitting nervously on their pocketbooks all week waiting for today's jobs data, and all major indices have been climbing steadily northward since then.

Wall Street panicked briefly when the numbers first rolled in at 8:30 a.m. EDT, and stock futures dipped into the red, but they quickly recovered, bounding back into positive territory right before the open.

It's not like the jobs numbers were really that nice. But following a downpour of hot data since last week, the market was already expecting the

Federal Open Market Committee to hike interest rates by an aggressive 50 basis points May 16. In fact, most say a 50-point hike is priced into the

fed funds futures contract. And today's numbers weren't ugly enough to convince investors that even more aggressive tightening would be happening this year.

"The numbers have a bearish tone to them, but they weren't an aberration by any stretch," said Brian Conroy, head of listed trading at

J.P. Morgan

.

The April unemployment figure hit a 30-year low of 3.9%, just under

Reuters

consensus poll estimates of 4.0%, while average hourly earnings came out in-line with estimates of 0.4% and nonfarm payrolls were up 340,000, just under

Reuters

estimates of 358,000.

There are others who still wonder if a 50-basis point hike is really in the cards. The FOMC hasn't raised rates by more than 25 basis points in five years and has tended to like a gradualist approach.

"I think the market has to process more information, price in April

retail sales data, inflation statistics," said William Sullivan, chief money-market economist at

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

.

"If the

Fed does go ahead and raise rates 50 basis points, it will want to see the lag on that decision processed," said Sullivan. "If they do raise rates by this much, more monetary correction measures could be on hold for an extensive period, maybe through the rest of the year."

Around midday, the biotech, semiconductor, computer boxmaker and telecom sectors were all taking the

Nasdaq Composite Index

higher.

At midday, the

Nasdaq Biotechnology Index

was up 2.8%, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

was up 2.3% and the

Nasdaq Telecommunications Index

was better by 1.1%.

Semiconductor stocks were trading higher after

Merrill Lynch's

(MER)

new

Semiconductor HOLDRs

(SMH) - Get Report

started trading today on the

American Stock Exchange

. This

basket of 20 chip stocks can be bought and sold just like a stock and includes all this big semiconductor names like

Texas Instruments

(TXN) - Get Report

,

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

and

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

. Other HOLDRs track sectors like the

Internet

(HHH)

and

Biotech

(BHH)

.

The

Philadephia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

was up 1.5%.

Tobacco, utilities and gold stocks were giving back some of yesterday's gains, with the

American Stock Exchange Tobacco Index

down 0.4%, the

Dow Jones Utilities Average

off 1.2% and the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold and Silver Index

down 4.5%.

The Nasdaq was getting extra bounce from

Brocade Communications

(BRCD)

, up 10%, and

Bookham Technology

(BKHM)

, up 19.4%.

Strongest on the

New York Stock Exchange today were

STMicroelectronics

(STM) - Get Report

, up 9.2%, and, once again,

Three-Five Systems

(TFS)

, up 10.9%.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was narrowly in the green, up 4 to 893.

Market Internals

Breadth was positive and volume was decent on both the NYSE and the Nasdaq.

New York Stock Exchange:

1,466 advancers, 1,273 decliners, 497 million shares. 58 new 52-week highs, 39 new lows.

Nasdaq Stock Market:

2,083 advancers, 1,617 decliners, 724 million shares. 24 new highs, 42 new lows.

For a look at stocks in the midsession news, see Midday Stocks to Watch, published separately.

Senior writer

Dagen McDowell contributed to this story.