Stocks Opened Higher after Upbeat Jobs Report

U.S. stocks opened higher on Friday, extending gains into a third session, after the government reported the U.S. economy added more jobs than expected in February, raising optimism about the recovery. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 10.79 points to 12,918.73. The S&P 500 Index climbed 2.29 points to 1,368.20. The Nasdaq Composite gained 5.19  points to 2,975.61.

Employment grew solidly for a third straight month in February. Employers added 227,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, while the unemployment rate held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent – even as more people returned to the labor force.

Oil prices rose slightly to near $107 a barrel Friday on positive news about Greece’s debt crisis and ahead of a key U.S. employment report that will give an insight into the strength of the world’s No. 1 economy. By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for April delivery was up 31 cents to $106.89 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Government-controlled mortgage giant Freddie Mac has requested just $146 million in additional aid after posting a smaller loss in the fourth quarter. Freddie Mac says it lost $1 billion, or 32 cents per share, in the October-December quarter. That compares with a loss of $1.72 billion, or 53 cents a share, in the same quarter of 2010.

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