March 9, 2012 / 3:03 AM / 6 years ago

Upbeat jobs data lifts shares, dollar

GLOBAL MARKETS 2100 GMT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global stocks rose and the dollar rallied on Friday after U.S. jobs data beat expectations and provided a fresh sign that the world’s biggest economy is recovering.

U.S. employment grew solidly for a third straight month in February as employers added 227,000 jobs to their payrolls, the Labor Department said, even though the unemployment rate held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent.

The data lifted the dollar to multi-month highs against other currencies and initially pushed commodity prices lower. Brent oil prices slipped to around $125 a barrel and gold fell sharply before recovering.

“The pace of job growth we’ve seen in the last six months is steadier and at a higher level than we saw a year ago,” said Alan Levenson, chief economist at T. Rowe Price in Baltimore.

“The bottom line to me is... the economy is on firmer footing than it was a year ago,” he said.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 51.81 points, or 0.40 percent, at 12,959.75. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX was up 7.60 points, or 0.56 percent, at 1,373.51. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 12.28 points, or 0.41 percent, at 2,982.70.

Greece’s winning strong acceptance of its bond swap offer to private creditors, averting the immediate risk of an uncontrolled default, also lifted stocks. The market had run up for two days on hopes of success.

The dollar rose against a basket of major currencies, with the Dollar Index .DXY up 1.05 percent at 79.972.

But the euro tumbled more than 1 percent against the dollar on concern about heavily indebted euro zone states and a weak growth outlook, which outweighed relief over Greece completing the bond swap.

Trading, however, was moderate and many market participants were still on sidelines, according to Michael Woolfolk, currency strategist at BNY Mellon in New York.

“I think there is cautious optimism, but I think the European debt crisis is one of the factors that’s keeping people from going all in.”

Global stocks, as measured by the MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS were up 0.1 percent, while Europe’s FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of blue chip shares, which had been flat, rose 0.2 percent after the U.S. jobs data.

Brent crude futures traded near break-even at $125.46 a barrel after early declines. U.S. light sweet crude oil rose 79 cents to $107.37 a barrel.

Safe-haven U.S. and German government debt fell. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 10/32 in price to yield 2.05 percent.

Gold turned positive, up 0.6 percent to $1,709 an ounce.

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