Stocks Mount Rise on Above-Average Payrolls Gains

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks were gaining Friday after above-average gains in the May government jobs report and after the European Central Bank's unprecedented move on interest rates on Thursday.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 217,000 in May vs. the average estimate of 218,000 gleaned from a Reuters survey of economists. That's also weaker than April's figure, which was a downwardly revised 282,000. Still, the May number was slightly higher than the average gain of 197,000 over the past year and is more evidence that the economy is on the right track.

The jobless rate was unchanged at 6.3% vs. the consensus 6.4%.

While the report will likely keep the stimulus tapering process by the Federal Reserve on track, it's unlikely to alter by much the Fed's timeline for potential policy rate hikes starting mid-2015, according to Barclays economists.

The S&P 500 was up 0.41% to 1,948.47 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was increasing 0.41% to 16,905.95. The Nasdaq was advancing 0.55% to 4,319.75. U.S. stocks on Thursday rose to record highs as markets cheered the ECB's moves to help stimulate the eurozone economy.

European markets were higher after the ECB's decision Thursday and the U.S. labor market data. The FTSE was up by 0.47% and the DAX was adding on 0.41%. In Asia, the Nikkei 225 finished flat and the Hang Seng closed down 0.69% before investors were able to get a glimpse of the nonfarm payrolls report.

Stocks to watch Friday include Bank of America (BAC), General Motors (GM), Walmart (WMT) and Gap (GPS).

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