4 Apr 2009

US stocks shrug off jobless figures to rise

11:11 am on 4 April 2009

US stocks shrugged off a dismal March jobs report to end higher on Friday, capping their fourth weekly gain amid market expectations that the economic contraction is easing.

The Dow rose 39.51 points or 0.50% to close above the psychological 8,000 level at 8,017.59 in final trades.

The market opened mostly lower after the Labor Department reported the US unemployment rate in March leapt to a new 25-year high of 8.5% as recession-battered employers shed another 663,000 jobs.

The New Zealand benchmark index was up 28 points, or 1.1%, to 2614 at the close of trade.

The Australian share market closed 1.5% stronger after gains from big miners and changes in the way banks value toxic assets in the United States.

European shares closed lower on Friday, with drugmakers and oils falling, after unemployment data from the United States provided further evidence of recession.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top shares fell 1.4%to a provisional close of 770.71 points. The index rose 7.1% over the week and is up more than 19% from its lifetime low of March 9.

In Japan, the gains were more modest, with share prices up 0.34%, near a three-month high.

The benchmark Nikkei-225 index climbed 30.06 points to 8,749.84, the best finish since 9 January. The broader Topix index of all first-section shares gained 4.67 points, or 0.56%, to 831.36.