U.S. stocks wrapped up Friday's session higher, buoyed by a rally in oil prices and strong February payrolls.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.37%, rising 2.2% for the week. The S&P 500 gained 0.33%, up 2.7% for the week, and the Nasdaq rose 0.2%, for a weekly advance of 2.8%. This is the third straight week of gains for stocks.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose 4.11% to $35.99 a barrel. Brent, the international price for oil, added 4.4% to $38.70. The U.S. oil rig count dropped to 392, a decline of eight rigs, according to fresh data from Baker Hughes. This marks the 11th week in a row the rig count has declined.
The U.S. economy added 242,000 jobs in February, according to the Labor Department, outpacing an estimate of 190,000 positions from economists. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9%.
"The February employment report is likely to give the Fed confidence that the labor market remains on solid footing while inflationary pressures remain subdued," economists at BNP Paribas wrote in a note on Friday.
January's figures were revised to 172,000 job gains from a previously reported 151,000, and December's numbers were updated to 271,000 from 262,000. These changes netted the economy an additional 30,000 jobs.
But the news from the Labor Department report wasn't all positive: Wages took an unexpected downturn. Average hourly earnings fell 0.1% in February, while economists had expected a 0.2% increase. Over the past year, wages remained higher by 2.2%.
This is the final report before the Federal Reserve's closely watched March meeting. The central bank is likely to punt on hiking rates at the meeting given the volatility in global markets so far this year and worries about China's slowing economy.
Financial stocks inched upward on hopes that the Fed would hike interest rates sooner, given the strong employment figures. Bank of America (BAC) added 0.3% while JPMorgan Chase (JPM) advanced 0.15%.
Under Armour (UA) reiterated its full-year guidance amid the bankruptcy this week of Sports Authority, which is set to close 140 stores nationwide. Under Armour expects revenue to rise 25% to $4.95 billion. Shares gained 1.1%.
SunEdison (SUNE) shares surged 17% after the solar power company reached a settlement with shareholders from Latin American Power. SunEdison will pay $28.5 million to resolve disputes related to SunEdison nixing a deal to acquire Latin America Power.
AMC Entertainment (AMC) is set to purchase competitor Carmike Cinemas (CKEC) for $1.1 billion. AMC agreed to pay $30 a share in cash, which amounts to a 19% premium over Carmike's closing price on Thursday. The new company will be the biggest movie theater chain. AMC shares gained 5.1%, while Carmike shares advanced 17%.
Staples (SPLS) reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of 26 cents a share, 2 cents below estimates. Revenue fell 7% year over year to $5.27 billion, missing estimates of $5.4 billion. Shares lost 2.74%.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) posted fiscal first-quarter earnings of 41 cents share, ahead of the 39 cents analysts were looking for. Revenue of $12.72 billion eclipsed forecasts of $12.68 billion. The information technology company expects net income of between $1.85 and $1.95 a share for the fiscal year. Shares increased 14%.
SeaDrill ( SDRL) rose 121% as investors covered short bets on bailout speculation. Earlier this week, SeaDrill's primary owner, John Fredriksen, freed up $510 million in cash, which is fueling the bailout speculation, Bloomberg reported. Fredriksen sold a third of his shares in salmon farmer Marine Harvest, prompting investors to wonder whether he's preparing to make additional investments in SeaDrill.