* Dow hits fresh highs, S&P 2 pct away from record intraday
* U.S. non-farm payrolls jump more than expected in February
* Financials weigh after stress tests, Goldman Sachs tumbles
* Dow up 0.4 pct, S&P up 0.4 pct, Nasdaq up 0.4 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, March 8 U.S. stocks extended their
advance on Friday, with the Dow hitting yet another record and
the S&P climbing for its sixth straight day after a payroll
report that was much stronger than expected.
All three major U.S. stock indexes were on track for their
biggest weekly gain since the first week of the year - with the
S&P 500 is on track for its ninth positive week out of the past
10. The benchmark S&P index has jumped 10.5 percent over that
period and is about 2 percent from an all-time intraday high.
Hiring in the United States jumped in February with non-farm
payrolls adding 236,000 last month, easily beating expectations
for a gain of 160,000 jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7
percent, the lowest since December 2008.
"This was a lot higher than anyone was expecting, and it
definitely shines light on the fact that the economy is
improving," said Owen Fitzpatrick, head of U.S. equities at
Deutsche Bank Asset and Wealth Management in New York.
"While in the near term, we may be overdue for a pause,
given how much we've run, it is very constructive to see numbers
improve like this," Fitzpatrick said.
The day's gains were offset by a decline in some bank shares
in the wake of the Federal Reserve's "stress test" results.
While the results were largely positive and as expected, with
the Fed saying the biggest U.S. banks had enough capital to
withstand a severe economic downturn, investors took the
opportunity to book profits in the group.
Bank of America Corp fell 1.4 percent to $12.09.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc dropped 2.3 percent to
$153.09 and ranked as the S&P 500's biggest percentage decliner.
While Goldman met the minimum Tier 1 common capital ratio that
the Fed tested for, it had one of the lowest outcomes above the
Citigroup Inc had the highest Tier 1 common capital
ratio, according to the Fed's "stress test" results; its stock
jumped 3.1 percent to $46.41.
"Financials have had a good run, so people are selling on
the news, except for Citi, which was a real outlier on the
positive side," Fitzpatrick said.
The S&P financial sector index, which had climbed
more than 10 percent this year, was up just 0.3 percent in late
afternoon trading. The index, however, hit a 52-week intraday
high earlier in the day.
Still, investors were mindful of the possibility of a bigger
pullback after the steady gains this year. The last correction
for the benchmark S&P 500 index was nearly a year ago - a 9.9
percent slide from April highs to the start of June.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 50.76 points,
or 0.35 percent, at 14,380.25. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 5.84 points, or 0.38 percent, at 1,550.10. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 11.91 points, or 0.37
percent, at 3,244.00.
Earlier in the session, the Dow climbed as high as 14,413.17
- a fresh intraday record.
Wholesale inventories added to the stream of positive
economic data. In January, U.S. wholesale inventories increased
1.2 percent to $504.4 billion - the fastest pace of growth since
December 2011. The strong January reading followed a revised 0.1
percent rise in December 2012.
McDonald's Corp gained 1.6 percent to $98.60 and
gave the biggest boost to the Dow after the fast-food hamburger
chain said February sales at established restaurants fell just
1.5 percent, a little better than expected.
Pandora Media shares jumped 19 percent to $13.96 on
stronger-than-expected quarterly results. The company, the
leader in Internet-streaming radio, also made the surprising
announcement that CEO Joseph Kennedy is stepping
Skullcandy Inc plunged nearly 23 percent to $5.20
after the headphone maker said it expects to post a loss in the
current quarter, even though fourth-quarter revenue was higher