NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks moved confidently higher by midday Friday after Wall Street applauded that the U.S. added 223,000 jobs to payrolls in April, in line with expectations. The national unemployment rate fell to 5.4% in April from 5.5% last month.
The S&P 500 was up 1.2%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was climbing 1.38%, and the Nasdaq added 1%.
Economists were expecting 225,000 jobs to be added in April, far better than 126,000 added in March.
Jobs increased in professional and business services, health care and construction, while jobs in mining continued to decline, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages ticked slightly higher. Average hourly earnings for private sector employees rose 3 cents, or 0.1%, from March to $24.87. Average hourly earnings rose 2.2% over the past 12 months, according to the data.
The question now will be whether the economy is growing fast enough for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates sooner than later. Speculation has continued over whether the Fed would raise rates in June or push it back to September or later.
The Fed has "kept rates so low for so long and I think they'll take the risk of beginning to tighten," Jerry Webman, chief economist of OppenheimerFunds told TheStreet TV. "That's why September looks reasonable, even though we're seeing these neither here nor there kind of [jobs] numbers."
Crude oil settled higher on Friday. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 46 cents to $59.39 a barrel. Crude rose 0.78% for the week.