Stocks advanced on Wall Street on Friday, with the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index eclipsing its five-year closing high, after a jobs report showed American employers kept the pace of hiring steady in December.
The S.P. 500 ended up 0.5 percent at 1,466.47, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.3 percent, and the Nasdaq composite index added a point. For the week, the S.P. 500 added 4.6 percent, the Dow rose 3.8 percent and the Nasdaq jumped 4.8 percent, their largest weekly percentage gains in more than a year.
The Labor Department said payrolls outside the farming sector grew by 155,000 jobs last month, slightly below November’s level. Gains in employment were distributed broadly throughout the economy, from manufacturing and construction to health care.
Though the jobs data showed that lackluster economic growth was unable to make a dent in the still-high unemployment rate in the United States, it appeared to calm fears about the possibility of the Federal Reserve ending its highly stimulative monetary policy.
“When it comes to Fed policy, this report should keep policy steady,” said Tom Porcelli, chief United States economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York.
Minutes from the Fed’s December policy meeting, released Thursday, showed Fed officials were increasingly worried about the risks of asset purchases on financial markets, though they looked set to continue with the open-ended stimulus program for now.
The Fed’s policy of easy credit helped push the S.P. 500 to a 13.4 percent gain in 2012. Ending that policy would remove an incentive for investors to purchase riskier assets like stocks.
Eli Lilly said it expected 2013 earnings to increase to $3.75 to $3.90 a share excluding items, from $3.30 to $3.40 per share in 2012. The stock rose 2.5 percent.
Japan’s Nikkei share average climbed nearly 3 percent to a 22-month high on its first trading day of 2013 on Friday, as a deal in Washington to avert fiscal disaster buoyed investors’ appetite for risk, and the weaker yen lifted exporters such as Toyota. Japan’s markets were closed Thursday for a holiday.
European stock markets ended the day higher.