Upbeat jobs data lifts shares, dollar

Fri Mar 9, 2012 10:42am EST
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By Herbert Lash

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.   Continued...