Dow and S&P hit records on solid jobs report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Dow and the S&P 500 surged to all-time highs on Friday after a solid employment report rekindled optimism about the U.S. economy and corporate profits.

The economy added more jobs in September than economists had expected, while an earlier estimate of job losses in August was revised to a gain, quashing fears of recession.

Friday’s record run-up cemented the market’s recovery from a late summer sell-off when a credit squeeze and mounting housing market losses drove investors away from equities.

Shares of economic bellwethers, led by Caterpillar Inc CAT.N, were the Dow's biggest advancers, along with the stocks of financial services companies, such as credit card issuer American Express Co AXP.N and Citigroup Inc C.N.

Technology and consumer-oriented issues also showed strength.

“From the jobs numbers that we got today, we saw that most of the economy is actually doing a lot better than people thought it was doing,” said Cleveland Rueckert, market analyst at Birinyi Associates Inc, in Stamford, Connecticut.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI climbed 91.70 points, or 0.66 percent, to end at 14,066.01. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX jumped 14.75 points, or 0.96 percent, to 1,557.59 -- a record close.

The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC finished up 46.75 points, or 1.71 percent, at 2,780.32.

During the session, the Dow reached an intraday record high of 14,124.54 and the S&P 500 hit an all-time high of 1,561.91. The Nasdaq climbed to 2,784.93, its highest level since January 2001. On Monday, the Dow achieved its 33rd record close for 2007 by finishing at 14,087.55.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, October 1, 2007. REUTERS/Chip East

For the week, the Dow gained 1.23 percent, the S&P 500 rose 2.02 percent and the Nasdaq climbed 2.9 percent, marking the index’s best weekly climb since March.

Investors also snapped up small-cap stocks, driving the Russell 2000 Index .RUT to its biggest weekly percentage gain since July 2006. The Russell 2000 shot up 1.89 percent, or 15.71 points, to end at 844.86.

On a sectoral basis, financials were the week's biggest winner, with the S&P financial index .GSPF finishing up 1.2 percent. On a weekly basis, the index had its best weekly advance since March 2003 as investors bet that the worst effects of the credit market turmoil are behind Wall Street.

Transport was another stellar performer, with the Dow Jones transport average .DJT finishing up 3.3 percent, its biggest advance since September 18, when the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates.

Technology also shone, powered by gains in shares of BlackBerry hand-held device maker Research In Motion Ltd RIM.TORIMM.O, a day after it posted quarterly results that beat expectations. The stock, which was the Nasdaq's biggest gainer and hit an all-time high during the session, ended up 12.8 percent at $113.37.

Google Inc GOOG.O was another notable gainer after Bear Stearns set a 2008 price target of $700 on the Web search leader's stock. Google finished up 2.6 percent at $594.05.

Among industrials, shares of heavy equipment maker Caterpillar ended up 2.2 percent at $80.33 on the New York Stock Exchange, while shares of 3M, the maker of Post-it notes and other products, gained 1.7 percent to $95.85.

Shares of aluminum company Alcoa Inc AA.N , another economic bellwether, climbed 3 percent to $38.79.

Among financials, Citigroup shares ended up 1.4 percent at $48.30, while American Express shares advanced 2.2 percent to $61.10.

Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc's shares MER.N closed up 2.5 percent at $76.67 after the investment bank detailed the losses it would take as a result of the recent credit market turmoil. It forecast it would post a third-quarter loss after writing down $4.5 billion in loan losses.

Among consumer-oriented stocks, shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc WMT.N, the top U.S. discounter, rose 0.8 percent to $45.37 on the NYSE. Rival Target Corp's TGT.N shares jumped 3.7 percent to $67.57. The S&P retail index .RLX gained 2.5 percent.

Among transport stocks, shares of package shipper FedEx Corp. FDX.N climbed 1.3 percent to $106.06.

Trading was lighter than normal on the NYSE, with about 1.26 billion shares changing hands versus last year’s estimated daily average of 1.84 billion. On Nasdaq, about 2.01 billion shares traded, slightly below last year’s daily average of 2.02 billion.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones by a ratio of about 3 to 1 on both the NYSE and Nasdaq.