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US STOCKS-Wall St on track to end week higher after jobs data

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Sat, Mar 24, 2012 19:53 hrs

* February non-farm payrolls exceed consensus view

* ISDA declares Greek credit event, CDS payments triggered

* Banks, materials, consumer shares lead advance

* Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P up 0.4 pct, Nasdaq up 0.5 pct

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, March 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were on track to end the week higher on Friday after a strong monthly jobs report, but gains were trimmed in late afternoon trade on news of a credit event in Greece.

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association said that Greece has triggered the payment on default insurance contracts by using legislation that offers losses on all private creditors.

The news comes after Greece completed the negotiation of the biggest sovereign debt restructuring in history, an issue that has kept investors skittish.

The S&P 500 faced strong technical resistance as it approached its highest level in nearly four years.

"The jobs numbers have helped the market keep the forward momentum going. It is definitely a confidence builder," said Jim Russell, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Cincinnati.

"But at this point, the market is tired, and we expect to see some digestion and consolidation before a solid trend higher."

Bank shares, among the most sensitive to growth expectations and the euro-zone crisis, led the gains. The KBW bank index rose 1 percent. Citigroup added 0.6 percent to $34.20. JPMorgan Chase gained 1.6 percent to $41.07.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 15.37 points, or 0.12 percent, at 12,923.31. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 4.87 points, or 0.36 percent, at 1,370.78. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 14.85 points, or 0.50 percent, at 2,985.27.

Exactly three years ago, the S&P 500 posted a 12-year closing low at 676.53 during the height of the financial crisis. The index has more than doubled since then, although it stalled last year before resuming a rally in 2012.

U.S. employers added 227,000 jobs to their payrolls in February, government data showed, while the unemployment rate held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent even as people flooded back into the labor force to hunt for jobs.

Shares of Monster Worldwide Inc, an online employment agency whose stock is sensitive to changes in the employment outlook, shot up 5 percent to $9.04.

More than 80 percent of the issues in the S&P consumer discretionary sector index rose, underscoring investors' bets that the jobs recovery will boost consumer spending, a pillar of the U.S. economy. The sector's index rose 0.5 percent.

Strength in homebuilders' shares, seen earlier in the week, continued, with the Dow Jones U.S. home construction index up 3.2 percent. Credit Suisse raised its recommendation on three big U.S. home builders - DR Horton , Lennar and Toll Brothers - to "outperform" from "neutral."

In the beverage sector, though, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc sank 15.8 percent to $52.57 on fears it may lose its near monopoly in the U.S. single-cup coffee market after Starbucks Corp outlined plans to launch a rival coffee machine. Starbucks rose 2.5 percent to $51.62.




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