Wall Street continues fightback

Wall Street continues fightback

Not even more job losses could get in the US stock market’s way today.

The Dow Jones industrial average clawed higher to end above 8,000 for the first time in nearly two months, and logged its fourth straight week of gains.

The last time the Dow rose for four consecutive weeks was between September and October of 2007 – when the index reached its all-time high above 14,000.

The Labour Department’s March unemployment report was a big hurdle for the market.

The numbers were certainly grim, but not terrible enough to derail an emerging sense of optimism over the past four months that the economy may be beginning to right itself.

Tom Phillips, president of TS Phillips Investments in Oklahoma City, said the improved tone in the market is helping traders react more moderately to bad news than they might have a month ago.

“If the expectation was for truly horrendous numbers and they’re only ugly, that’s a good thing,” he said.

Employers slashed a net total of 663,000 jobs last month, only slightly worse than the 654,000 economists expected. The employment rate jumped to 8.5%, its highest level since late 1983, when the economy was starting to emerge from a deep recession.

The economy has shed a total of 5.1 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. Nearly two-thirds of the losses have come in the last five months.

The Dow rose 39.51, or 0.5%, to 8,017.59.

That is the index’s highest close since February. 9, when the index ended at 8,270.87.

A month later, the index sank to a nearly 12-year low of 6,547.05. It is now 22.5% above that low.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index today rose 8.12, or 1%, to 842.50. The Nasdaq composite index rose 19.24, or 1.2%, at 1,621.87.

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