Wall St. gains modestly after payrolls; Ukraine eyed

Fri Mar 7, 2014 10:53am EST
 
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By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - 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 Scottsdale, Arizona.

"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 .DJI rose 57.93 points or 0.35 percent, to 16,479.82, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 2.94 points or 0.16 percent, to 1,879.97 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC 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.   Continued...

 
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange March 6, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid