U.S. stocks rose to extend a three-week rally, as investors shook off earlier reticence over a decline in wages to focus on a surge in hiring that bolstered optimism the economy can weather a global slowdown.
Energy companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index helped pace gains for a fourth consecutive session, on track for the longest streak in four months after erasing a 2016 decline yesterday. Lenders also continued to rally, up for the sixth time in seven days. Citigroup Inc. climbed 1.1 percent and is up 24 percent in the three weeks since reaching a three-year low. Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. surged nearly 14 percent as quarterly results reassured investors about demand for corporate technology.
The S&P 500 climbed 0.4 percent to 2,001.10 at 12:21 p.m. in New York, above the 2,000 level for the first time since Jan. 6. The gauge is on track for its third straight weekly gain, the longest such stretch this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 64.92 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,008.82, and the Nasdaq Composite Index increased 0.4 percent.
A report today showed employers added more workers in February than projected, though wages unexpectedly declined. The 242,000 gain followed a 172,000 rise in January that was larger than previously estimated. The jobless rate held at 4.9 percent, while average hourly earnings dropped, the first monthly decline in more than a year. Bigger wage gains are needed help move inflation closer to the Federal Reserve’s goal.