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Strong Jobs Report Fuels Dow Past 15,000 for the First Time

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Investors welcomed the latest report on the U.S. jobs market Friday, pushing the Dow above 15,000 for the first time.

The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were all up more than 1% in early trading. The S&P 500 also hit a record high, rising above 1,600. Stocks finished higher Thursday as well.

The gains came on the back of jobs data that was not too bad, not too good, but just right.

The U.S. economy added 165,000 jobs in April, according to the government’s latest monthly jobs report. The unemployment dipped to 7.5% from the prior month’s rate of 7.6%.

Both numbers were better than expected, easing concerns about a summer slowdown in the economy. But the unemployment rate remains well above the level at which the Federal Reserve has said it will take the market’s punch bowl away.

“Conditions are still less than ideal, but the economy continues to grind forward and progress is being made,” said Jim Baird, chief investment officer for Plante Moran Financial Advisors.

The jobs data overshadowed less encouraging economic data released Friday.

Factory orders fell 0.4% in March, according to the Census Bureau. The report was worse than expected and came after a 1.9% drop in February. The Institute for Supply Management said its index of activity in the services sector fell in April, but remained above the level indicating growth.

Warren Buffett’s investment firm Berkshire Hathaway is scheduled to release quarterly earnings after the market close.

LinkedIn shares plunged after the professional-networking site offered weak second-quarter guidance.

AIG shares rose after the insurer reported earnings that beat expectations Thursday.

European markets climbed higher in midday trading, despite a grim economic forecast from the European Union.

The EU trimmed its forecast for the eurozone gross domestic product, to a decline of 0.4% in 2013. The forecast for 2014 was also trimmed, to a gain of 1.2%.

Asian markets ended higher. The Shanghai Composite added 1.4% and the Hang Seng increased 0.1%. Japan’s Nikkei was closed for a holiday.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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