The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed at its highest level in five years Friday after a report showed that hiring held up in December, giving stocks an early lift.

The S&P 500 finished up 0.49 percent at 1,466.47, its highest close since December 2007.

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The index began its descent from a record close of 1,565.15 in October 2007, as the early signs of the financial crisis began to emerge. The index bottomed out in March 2009 at 676.53 before staging a recovery. It is within 99 points of its all-time peak.

The Dow Jones industrial average finished 43.85 points higher at 13,435.21. It gained 3.8 percent for the week, its biggest weekly advance since June. The Nasdaq was almost unchanged at 3,101.66.

Stocks surged this week after lawmakers passed a bill to avoid a combination of government spending cuts and tax increases dubbed the "fiscal cliff." The law passed late Tuesday night averted that outcome, which could have pushed the economy back into recession.

Stocks may also be benefiting as investors favor stocks over bonds. Goldman Sachs reaffirmed its view that stocks "can be an attractive source of income." -- AP