Late-day rebound propels stock market to big gains

A late-day rebound pulled the stock market out of a slump on Friday and helped give the S&P 500 its first weekly gain in three weeks.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 572 points, or 1.9%, to 31,496 after losing as much as 150 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 rose 2%, to 3,841, after falling 1% early in the session.

The Nasdaq composite rose 1.6%, to 12,920, after earlier dropping 2.6% Apple stock rose 1% and Microsoft climbed 2%.

Investors were encouraged by a government report that U.S. employers picked up the pace of hiring last month. The news helped them overcome anxiety over a recent surge in long-term interest rates in the bond market, which can slow the economy and discourage borrowing.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note pulled back from a midday spike and wound up at 1.56%, only slightly higher than a day earlier. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 45.29 points, or 2.1% to 2,192.21.

For the week, the S&P 500 rose 0.8%, the Dow rose 1.8%, the Nasdaq fell 2.1% and the Russell 2000 dipped 0.4%.

A government report Friday showed that employers added a robust 379,000 jobs in February, driven by a sharp increase at beleaguered restaurants and bars. That suggests Americans are starting to venture out and spend more as progress is made against the coronavirus and states relax business restrictions.

The February gain marked a sharp pickup from the 166,000 jobs that were added in January and the loss of 306,000 in December. Yet it represents just a fraction of the roughly 9.5 million that the economy must regain to get back to where it was before the crisis.

Unemployment fell from 6.3% to 6.2%, the Labor Department said. That is down dramatically from 14.8% last April, just after the virus erupted in the United States. But it’s well above the pre-pandemic rate of 3.5%.

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