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Stocks jump as November jobs growth blows past forecasts

Stocks marched broadly higher on Wall Street in afternoon trading Friday after the government reported that employers added far more jobs than expected in November.

The gains erased the S&P 500’s losses from earlier in the week, placing the benchmark index on track for a weekly gain.

The Labor Department said employers added 266,000 positions, well above estimates of 184,000. The report also showed unemployment falling to a 50-year low. The strong report should help ease any doubts among investors that the U.S. economy remains healthy.

The surprisingly good employment picture comes at the end of what started as a rough week for the market. Increased trade tensions and disappointing economic data sent the market to steep losses on Monday and Tuesday and the major indexes stayed in a slump through Thursday.

Technology and bank stocks led the gains Friday. Micron Technology rose 3% and JPMorgan Chase climbed 2%.

The solid jobs report sent bond yields higher, which banks rely on to charge higher interest rates on mortgages and other loans. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.84% from 1.79% late Thursday.

Utilities lagged the market as investors shifted money away from safe-play holdings.

Steady job growth has been one of the bright spots in the economy, along with solid consumer spending. The latest employment report is also a welcome development following reports earlier this week that showed manufacturing continues to shrink and growth in the service sector is slowing.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up 1% as of 2:08 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 331 points, or 1.2%, to 28,009. The Nasdaq climbed 1%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks outpaced other indexes with a 1.2% gain.

Major stock indexes in Europe finished higher.

REDEEMING REPORT: The S&P 500 is now headed for a 0.2% gain for the week after the strong jobs report put investors in a buying mood. That’s a solid pivot from losses of more than 1% as of late Thursday.

The other major indexes are still on track for losses, though much of the decline has been erased. The Nasdaq and Dow are headed for drops of about 0.1%.

TRADE THAW: China said Friday that it is waiving punitive tariffs on U.S. soybeans and pork as negotiations for a trade deal with the U.S. continue. Investors were rattled this week when President Donald Trump said he wouldn’t mind waiting until after the 2020 elections for an agreement. Wall Street has been hoping enough progress can be made on a deal to avert new tariffs on Chinese goods, such as laptops and cellphones, set to become effective on Dec. 15.

China has been seeking relief from some tariffs as part of the negotiations.

RIDE SAFETY: Uber slipped 2.3% after a safety report revealed that more than 3,000 sexual assaults were reported during its U.S. rides in 2018. The report is part of the ride-hailing company’s effort to be more transparent after years of criticism over its safety record.

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AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed.

Alex Veiga, The Associated Press