Stocks soar on surprise July job figures

Markets anticipate that weak numbers on the jobs

Markets anticipate that weak numbers on the jobs front released Aug. 3, 2012, will push the Federal Reserve to act in order to spur growth. (Aug. 5, 2011) (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

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A surge in hiring last month got a big welcome on Wall Street Friday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rallied 217.29 points to close at 13,096.17, ending a four-day losing streak. It was the best day for the Dow since June 29.

Markets had been slumping all week after central banks in the United States and Europe took no new action to shore up their economies, as investors had hoped.

The Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report gave investors assurance that the U.S. economy may be doing better on its own. U.S. employers added 163,000 jobs last month, far more than the 100,000 economists forecast.

"It's one step forward," said Joe Bell, senior equity analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research. "But we would like to see continued improvement in the labor market in coming months." There was more to cheer about from the service sector.

The good economic news caused investors to sell low-risk assets like U.S. government debt. The selling drove prices down and yields up. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note was yielding 1.57 percent, up from 1.48 percent Thursday.

Oil prices also rose as investors became more optimistic about the economy. Benchmark crude shot up $4.27 to $91.40 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.90 percent to 1,390.99, and the Nasdaq composite index climbed 2 percent to 2,967.90.

Despite the gain in hiring, there were still enough signs of weakness in the latest jobs report to keep hope alive that the Federal Reserve may still take more steps to kick-start the economy at its next meeting in September.

Knight Capital Group's stock leaped 57 percent Friday to $4.05 after news reports that the company had obtained an emergency credit line.

The trading firm was responsible for stock market disruptions on Wednesday that will cost it $440 million. The stock had fallen 75 percent over the previous two days.

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