February Jobs Report

March 10, 2012 by staff 

February Jobs Report, Stocks closed modestly higher Friday after the government’s monthly report on employment bolstered hopes that the economic recovery is on track. The gains were tempered by news that a big debt write-down by Greece could cause big losses for banks.

Three years after stocks hit bottom during the Great Recession, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 14 points and finished the week with a loss of 56. That was after a 203-point dive Tuesday, the worst drop this year.

The Dow was up more than 60 points Friday morning but lost ground in the afternoon after the trade group that oversees financial derivatives said Greece’s bond-swap deal will trigger payouts on bond insurance.

The Dow finished up 14.08 points, or 0.1 percent, at 12,922.02. The Standard & Poor’s 500 gained 4.96, or 0.4 percent, to 1,370.87. The Nasdaq composite average gained 17.92, or 0.6 percent, to 2,988.34.

The Dow has nearly doubled in the three years since its bottom during the financial crisis. On March 9, 2009, it closed at 6,547. The S&P 500 closed that day at 676.

The morning’s gains were driven by news that employers added 227,000 jobs last month, finishing three of the best months for hiring since the recession began. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3 percent because unemployed people started looking for work again, which increased the size of the labor force.

The hiring was spread across a range of industries, including business and professional services, leisure and hospitality and health care.

Later Friday, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association said it had determined that a massive bond-swap by Greece constituted a “credit event,” meaning that holders of credit-default swaps on their Greek bonds will be able to claim insurance payments. Traders sold stocks on the news, fearing big losses for banks that had sold the insurance.

Greece convinced most of its private creditors to swap their bonds for new ones worth far less. The deal clears the way for a fresh bailout from Greece’s neighbors. Fears of a disorderly Greek default have weighed on the market for two years.

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