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US markets extend gains to end higher on Friday

The rally by oil service stocks came amid a modest increase by the price of crude oil

Extending their previous session’s gains, the US markets settled higher on Friday, with the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 both finishing the session at new record closing highs. Sentiments got boost following the release of a closely watched Labor Department report showing much weaker than expected job growth in the month of April. The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment rose by 266,000 jobs in April after surging by a downwardly revised 770,000 jobs in March. Street had expected employment to spike by 978,000 jobs compared to the jump of 916,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month. The report also showed the unemployment rate inched up to 6.1 percent in April from 6.0 percent in March. Traders reacted positively to the report as the weaker than expected data reinforced the view the Federal Reserve will leave ultra-easy monetary policy in place for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, oil service stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the session. The rally by oil service stocks came amid a modest increase by the price of crude oil. Considerable strength was also visible among airlines stocks. Steel stocks also showed a strong move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Steel Index up by 2.1 percent to its best closing level in almost ten years. Housing, networking, computer hardware and gold stocks also saw notable strength, reflecting broad based buying interest on Wall Street.

Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 229.23 points or 0.66 percent to 34,777.76, Nasdaq gained 119.39 points or 0.88 percent to 13,752.24 and S&P 500 was up by 30.98 points or 0.74 percent to 4,232.60.