Stocks Around the World Push Higher

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks around the world climbed on Friday following a stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs report and a breakthrough in talks for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Health care and technology stocks helped lead the market, while crude oil continued to claw back some of its sharp drop from earlier in the week.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 13 points, or 0.5 percent, at 2,650, as of 2 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 90, or 0.4 percent, to 24,301, and the Nasdaq composite rose 40, or 0.6 percent, to 6,853.

JOBS REPORT: U.S. employers added 228,000 jobs last month, more than economists expected. The unemployment rate remained at a low 4.1 percent, as the economy continues to accelerate.

Paychecks, though, have not been getting much bigger. Hourly wage growth rose less last month than economists expected. Higher wages would help workers spend more, but they could also lead to higher inflation.

The jobs report is the last major piece of economic data that will arrive before the Federal Reserve meets next week to discuss interest rate policy. Most economists expect it to approve the third increase in short-term rates for the year.

BREXIT: Negotiators reached a key agreement that allows talks to continue to the next stage for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. Investors are hoping for a smooth exit that does not disrupt global trade.

In Germany, meanwhile, political parties agreed to open talks that could renew Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition. That helped the German DAX gain 0.8 percent. The FTSE 100 in London rose 1 percent, and France's CAC 40 gained 0.3 percent.

SHUTDOWN AVERTED, FOR NOW: Another potential source of worry for investors dissipated after Congress passed a spending bill that will prevent a government shutdown this weekend. The deal keeps the government running only until Dec. 22, though, when another deadline looms.

TECH HELPS LEAD THE WAY: Technology stocks in the S&P 500 rose 0.6 percent and were on pace for their fourth straight gain.

They had fallen 4 percent in four days around the start of this month, as investors moved out of tech stocks and into companies seen as bigger winners from Washington's push to overhaul the tax code, such as financial companies and retailers. It was an uncharacteristic loss for tech, which have been the market's biggest winners by far this year. Since then, tech stocks have roughly halved their loss.

HEALTHY GAINS: Health care stocks in the S&P 500 rose 1.1 percent for the biggest gain of the 11 sectors that make up the index. Biotechnology stocks were particularly strong.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals jumped $9.14, or 8.6 percent, to $115.92 for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 following a report from The New York Times that an activist hedge fund has bought shares in the company and pushed it to do more to lift its stock price.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals rose $5.34, or 3.8 percent, to $144.12.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.4 percent, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 1.2 percent and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.1 percent.

COMMODITIES: The price of oil continued to recover from its sharp loss in the middle of the week. Benchmark U.S. crude gained 56 cents to $57.25 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained $1.03 to $63.23 per barrel.

That helped energy stocks in the S&P 500 rise 0.7 percent. Noble Energy gained $1.11, or 4.3 percent, to $27.01 for one of the largest gains in the index.

Gold slipped $4.70 to settle at $1,248.40 per ounce, silver rose 2 cents to $15.82 per ounce and copper added a penny to $2.98 per pound.

YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.37 percent. The two-year yield dipped to 1.79 percent from 1.82 percent, and the 30-year yield held steady at 2.77 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar ticked up to 113.52 Japanese yen from 113.13 yen late Thursday. The euro dipped to $1.1761 from $1.1774, and the British pound slipped to $1.3397 from $1.3465.

(BE)