Stocks Opened Higher on Payrolls Report

U.S. stocks opened higher on Friday after February job growth handily topped expectations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 30.10 points, or 0.21%, to 14,359.59. The S&P 500 index added 1.83 points, or 0.12%, to 1,546.09. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 3.72 points, or 0.12%, to 3,235.81.

U.S. employers stepped up hiring in February, pushing the unemployment rate to a four year-low, suggesting the economy is gaining traction despite the blow from higher taxes and deep government spending cuts. Nonfarm payrolls surged 236,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, handily beating economists’ expectations for a gain of 160,000. The jobless rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008, from 7.9 percent in January.

McDonald’s Corp (MCD) said on Friday that February sales at its established restaurants around the world fell 1.5 percent as customers grappled with economic uncertainty. The decline in global sales at restaurants open at least 13 months was less steep than the 1.63 percent drop expected by analysts polled by Consensus Metrix.

Private equity firm KKR & Co LP (KKR) will buy industrial machinery maker Gardner Denver Inc (GDI) for $3.74 billion, four months after the company put itself up for sale.

Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility hardware unit has begun laying off about 1,200 employees, or more than 10% of its headcount, according to a company email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, as the smartphone maker continues trying to return to profitability.

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