* Dow hits fresh highs, S&P 1 pct away from record closing
* U.S. non-farm payrolls jump more than expected in February
* Financials weigh after stress tests, Goldman Sachs tumbles
* Dow up 0.5 pct, S&P 500 up 0.5 pct, Nasdaq up 0.4 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, March 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks closed out a
historic week with another day of gains on Friday, as the Dow
hit yet another record closing high on a payrolls report that
surpassed even the most optimistic forecasts.
The S&P 500 climbed for its sixth straight day, putting it
less than 1 percent from an all-time closing high. The benchmark
S&P index rose for its ninth positive week out of the last 10.
All three major U.S. stock indexes racked up their biggest
weekly gains since the first week of the year.
Hiring in the United States jumped in February with non-farm
payrolls adding 236,000 last month, surging past expectations
for a gain of 160,000 jobs and even topping the highest forecast
of analysts polled by Reuters. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7
percent, the lowest since December 2008.
"This was a lot higher than anyone was expecting, and it
definitely shines light on the fact that the economy is
improving," said Owen Fitzpatrick, head of U.S. equities at
Deutsche Bank Asset and Wealth Management in New York.
"While in the near term, we may be overdue for a pause,
given how much we've run. It is very constructive to see numbers
improve like this," Fitzpatrick said.
For the year, the Dow is up 9.9 percent, while the S&P 500
is up 8.8 percent and the Nasdaq is up about 7.5 percent.
The day's gains were offset by a decline in some bank shares
in the wake of the Federal Reserve's "stress test" results.
While the results were largely positive and as expected, with
the Fed saying the biggest U.S. banks had enough capital to
withstand a severe economic downturn, investors took the
opportunity to book profits in the group.
Bank of America Corp fell 1.6 percent to $12.07.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc dropped 2.3 percent to
$152.98 and ranked as the S&P 500's biggest percentage decliner.
While Goldman met the minimum Tier 1 common capital ratio that
the Fed tested for, it had one of the lowest outcomes above the
Citigroup Inc had the highest Tier 1 common capital
ratio, according to the Fed's "stress test" results; its stock
jumped 3.7 percent to $46.68.
"Financials have had a good run, so people are selling on
the news, except for Citi, which was a real outlier on the
positive side," Fitzpatrick said.
The S&P financial sector index, which had climbed
more than 10 percent this year, was up just 0.3 percent in late
afternoon trading. The index, however, hit a 52-week intraday
high earlier in the day.
Still, investors were mindful of the possibility of a bigger
pullback after the steady gains this year. The last correction
for the benchmark S&P 500 index was nearly a year ago - a 9.9
percent slide from April highs to the start of June.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 67.58 points,
or 0.47 percent, to 14,397.07, another record closing high. The
Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 6.92 points, or 0.45
percent, to 1,551.18. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained
12.28 points, or 0.38 percent, to end at 3,244.37.
Earlier in the session, the Dow climbed as high as 14,413.17
- a fresh intraday record. Nine of the 30 Dow components hit new
highs for the year, including General Electric Co,
Johnson & Johnson and Chevron Corp.
For the week, both the Dow and the S&P 500 closed up 2.2
percent, while the Nasdaq rose 2.4 percent. It was the best
weekly performance for all three since the first week of the
About 65 percent of the stocks traded on both the New York
Stock Exchange and Nasdaq closed higher. Roughly 6.27 billion
shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq
and NYSE MKT, below the daily average so far this year of about
6.45 billion shares.
Wholesale inventories added to the stream of positive
economic data. In January, U.S. wholesale inventories increased
1.2 percent to $504.4 billion - the fastest pace of growth since
December 2011. The strong January reading followed a revised 0.1
percent rise in December 2012.
McDonald's Corp gained 1.7 percent to $98.71 and
gave the biggest boost to the Dow after the fast-food hamburger
chain said February sales at established restaurants fell just
1.5 percent, a little better than expected.
H&R Block Inc climbed 9.2 percent to $27.28 and
ranked as the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainer a day after
saying cost cuts would drive its profits in 2013.
Pandora Media shares jumped about 18 percent to $13.79
on stronger-than-expected quarterly results. The company, the
leader in Internet-streaming radio, also made the surprising
announcement that CEO Joseph Kennedy is stepping
Skullcandy Inc plunged 22.5 percent to $5.21 after
the headphone maker said it expects to post a loss in the
current quarter, even though fourth-quarter revenue was higher