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US stocks increase after strong February jobs report

US stocks have risen in value after a strong February jobs report.

Most parts of the market moved higher as investors wait for the Federal Reserve to meet next week.

The central bank is almost universally expected to raise interest rates.

Technology, industrial and healthcare companies climbed while energy companies missed out on the rally as oil prices continued to fall.

"It was a solid report all around that reinforces that the economy is on solid footing," said Sameer Samana, a strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

He said investors are glad to see continued hiring and more people seeking work, but they are also glad the economy is not gaining strength too quickly.

That might force the Fed to raise interest rates faster, with uncertain effects on the economy.

"If they go too quickly or raise rates too many times, there is a risk we will find ourselves in a downturn," he said.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 7.73 points, or 0.3%, to 2,372.60.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 44.79 points, or 0.2%, to 20,902.98. The Nasdaq composite added 22.92 points, or 0.4%, to 5,861.73.

Stocks had mostly fallen since March 1, the day indexes soared to their most recent record highs.

Overall it was a slow week for stocks. The current bull market had its eighth anniversary but six-week winning streaks for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended, and the Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks took its biggest loss in three months.

US employers added 235,000 jobs in February, according to the Department of Labor.

The gains in hiring and pay, along with higher consumer and business confidence since the November election, could lift spending and investment in coming months and accelerate economic growth.

A poor jobs report was probably the last thing that could have stopped the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates next week.

AP

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