NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Markets were propelled higher Friday to end with fresh record gains after a fairly flat start to the week. Investor outlook was boosted by an above-average jobs report released Friday morning, while the European Central Bank's decision to cut interest rates helped to foster global market confidence.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 217,000 in May compared to 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 closed 0.46% higher to 1,949.44 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average had added 0.52% to 16,924.28. The Nasdaq was 0.59% higher to 4,321.4.
European markets were boosted by the ECB's decision Thursday. The FTSE closed 0.66% higher and the DAX added 0.4%. In Asia, the Nikkei 225 finished flat and the Hang Seng was down 0.69%, after markets closed before investors were able to digest the nonfarm payrolls report.
To individual stocks, Amazon (AMZN) is contributing to S&P 500 gains, up 1.9% to $329.67.
Gap (GPS) was rising 2.1% after the retailer posted a 1% increase in May same-store sales, which was better than the 0.2% Wall Street target.