* February payrolls top expectations
* FireEye shares decline after secondary offering
* Cerberus Capital to buy Safeway; Safeway shares slip
* Skullcandy jumps after results, outlook
* Indexes up: Dow 0.35 pct, S&P 0.16 pct, Nasdaq 0.19 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 7 U.S. stocks rose modestly on
Friday after an unexpectedly strong payrolls report in February,
although gains were curbed by lingering tensions in Ukraine,
with the S&P 500 at record highs.
U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs to their payrolls last
month, exceeding expectations for 149,000 jobs, after creating
129,000 new positions in January, Labor Department data showed.
The unemployment rate, however, edged up to 6.7 percent from a
five-year low of 6.6 percent.
"It was incredible, the market loves it, we were definitely
braced for something lower," said Sean McCarthy, regional chief
investment officer, Wells Fargo Private Bank, based in
"When the ADP (employment data) came out and considering
what we had seen in prior weeks from the Empire State survey and
the Philly Fed, we were braced for something lower, so seeing
175,000 is incredible."
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 57.93 points or
0.35 percent, to 16,479.82, the S&P 500 gained 2.94
points or 0.16 percent, to 1,879.97 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 8.29 points or 0.19 percent, to 4,343.835.
Both the S&P 500 and Dow are on pace for a second straight
week of gains, while the Nasdaq its on track for its fifth
straight weekly advance.
Traders remained cautious ahead of the weekend, with the S&P
500 at record highs and amid a simmering crisis in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin rebuffed a warning from
U.S. President Barack Obama over Moscow's military intervention
in Crimea, saying Russia could not ignore calls for help from
Russian speakers in Ukraine.
"There was that initial euphoria and then it fades right
away," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at
O'Neil Securities in New York.
"You are going into the weekend, you still have the
Ukrainian thing - Putin is not necessarily just bowing here so
you still have that headline risk over the weekend."
After initially piling into gold, crude and grains on Monday
as tensions escalated over Crimea last weekend, investors have
cautiously returned to stocks across the world. A gauge of
global equities traded near a six-year high while the S&P 500
closed Thursday at a record.
Shares of FireEye Inc dropped 6.8 percent to $83.50
after the network security company priced the follow-on public
offering of 14 million shares of its common stock at $82 per
Safeway Inc, the second-largest U.S. mainstream
grocery store operator, said Thursday private equity firm
Cerberus Capital Management would acquire the company in a deal
valued at about $9.4 billion. Safeway shares fell 2.8 percent to
Skullcandy Inc jumped 39.4 percent to $10.36 after
the headphone maker posted fourth-quarter earnings and provided
an outlook for the first-quarter and full year.
Big Lots Inc surged 20 percent to $35.10 after the
close-out retailer reported a better-than-expected adjusted
profit for the holiday quarter.