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US: Wall Street rises as investors cheer robust jobs data

[BENGALURU] US stocks rose on Friday amid broad-based gains as a stellar jobs report underscored the strength of the economy, potentially giving the Federal Reserve enough ammunition to raise interest rates next week.

Data showed 235,000 jobs were added in the public and private sectors in February, blowing past economists' average estimate of 190,000. The number of jobs created in January was revised up to 238,000.

Unemployment rate edged down to 4.7 per cent, while average earnings rose 0.2 per cent in February.

"This report is consistent with an exceedingly healthy labour backdrop and, I think more critically, it's a number that will embolden the Fed to raise rates in March," said Tom Porcelli, chief US economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York.

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At 9.37am ET (1437 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 59.56 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 20,917.75, the S&P 500 was up 9.47 points, or 0.40 per cent, at 2,374.34 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 27.04 points, or 0.46 per cent, at 5,865.85.

All of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with technology providing the biggest boost.

The odds of a rate hike at the Fed's meeting next week rose to 92 per cent after the report, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen's conference on March 15 following the two-day meeting will be closely watched for clues on the pace of future rate hikes.

In the 49 days of Donald Trump's presidency, the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke above 21,000 points and the S&P 500 crossed US$20 trillion in market value on bets that he would usher in an era of tax cuts, simpler regulations and higher infrastructure spending.

However, the lack of detail on Mr Trump's plans has raised questions about valuations and taken the heat off the post-election rally.

"The onus is now on our policymaking friends in Washington to deliver," said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM US LLP in New York.

Shares of Alexandria Real Estate Equities were off 4.7 per cent at US$108.36 after the Reit priced an offering of 6.1 million shares at US$108.55 per share - a 4.5 per cent discount to its Thursday close.

Finisar Corp dropped 17 per cent to US$29.11 after the network equipment maker issued disappointing revenue and profit forecasts for the current quarter.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,194 to 433. On the Nasdaq, 1,760 issues rose and 500 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 29 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 44 new highs and nine new lows.