December 8, 2017 / 3:03 PM / in 7 months

US STOCKS-Strong jobs data lifts Wall Street higher

* Nov. job numbers rise by 228,000 vs est. 200,000

* Average hourly earnings rise 0.2 percent

* Alexion Pharma up after hedge fund Elliott seeks changes - NYT

* Indexes up: Dow 0.29 pct, S&P 0.42 pct, Nasdaq 0.81 pct (Updates to open)

By Sruthi Shankar and Rama Venkat Raman

Dec 8 (Reuters) - Wall Street ticked higher on Friday after a stronger-than-expected jobs data for November showed that the world’s largest economy has gained strength, ahead of a near certain interest rate hike next week.

The Labor Department’s closely watched employment report showed job growth increased at a strong clip in November and wages rebounded.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 228,000 jobs last month amid broad gains in hiring as the distortions from the recent hurricanes faded. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls rising by 200,000 jobs last month.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.2 percent in November after dipping 0.1 percent the prior month. That lifted the annual increase in wages to 2.5 percent from 2.3 percent in October.

“(Wages) were kind of right in line with expectations... so pretty good wage gains but nothing that starts to worry people about inflation,” said Sean Lynch, co-head of global equity strategy at Wells Fargo Investment Institute in Omaha, Nebraska.

“Unless there was just a total outlier in the number, we have the (Fed) raise coming this month and then we are in line with what the futures market is telling us and that is two for next year.”

At 9:33 a.m. ET (1433 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 70.92 points, or 0.29 percent, at 24,282.4, the S&P 500 was up 11.02 points, or 0.42 percent, at 2,648 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 55.38 points, or 0.81 percent, at 6,868.22.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals rose 5.6 percent, becoming the biggest S&P gainer, after the New York Times reported hedge fund Elliott Management was urging the company to take steps to boost its stock price, including exploring a sale.

Early movements in the stock market were helped by an overnight deal between Britain and the European Union, signaling the two sides will be able to move on to talks about trade.

Oil prices rose nearly 2 percent, helped by rising Chinese crude demand and threats of a strike in Africa’s largest oil exporter.

Technology stocks were on top the S&P gainers list, while consumer staples were at the bottom.

“We’ve been in a bullish phase certainly in the U.S. equity market and lots of other markets globally,” said Peter Cecchini, chief market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York.

“You have a continually strong liquidity backdrop, which I don’t think its going to change anytime soon.”

Shares of American Outdoor Brands slumped 15 percent after the Smith & Wesson fire arms maker provided disappointing earnings forecast. Shares of Sturm Ruger & Co also slipped 4.2 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,959 to 609. On the Nasdaq, 1,724 issues rose and 537 fell. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak in New York; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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