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Dow closes above 17,000 for first time

Wall Street stocks on Thursday closed at new records, with the Dow crossing 17,000 after surprisingly robust US jobs growth pointed to a stronger economy.

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks on Thursday closed at new records, with the Dow crossing 17,000 after surprisingly robust US jobs growth pointed to a stronger economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up 92.02 points (0.54 per cent) to 17,068.26, while the S&P 500 gained 10.82 points (0.55 per cent) to 1,985.44. Both indices closed at records highs for the third straight session.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 28.19 points (0.63 per cent) to 4,485.93

The Labour Department said the US economy added a healthy 288,000 jobs in June, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 per cent from 6.3 per cent in May.

The solid jobs data drove stocks higher in a holiday-shortened session that closed three hours early. Stocks markets are closed on Friday for Independence Day.

"The market is applauding the strong jobs number and the signs that it shows economic growth is in fact returning as we expected after there was a weather-related slowdown in the first quarter," said David Levy, portfolio manager at Kenjol Capital Management.

Still, Levy said, whether the market continues to rise will depend on upcoming second-quarter corporate earnings reports and whether investors believe the Federal Reserve is likely to move up its timetable for raising interest rates.

In other economic news, the European Central Bank, as expected, held its benchmark interest rates unchanged. The Commerce Department reported that the US trade deficit fell to US$44.4 billion in May, a bigger decline than analysts expected.

The Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing purchasing managers index dipped to 56.0 in June from a strong advance to 56.3 in May. The services sector reading came in lower than the 56.5 analyst forecast, but remained well above 50, which indicates growth.

Yoga attire maker Lululemon advanced 2.9 per cent after the Wall Street Journal reported that founder Dennis "Chip" Wilson was reaching out to private-equity firms with an eye toward taking the company private.

Retailer PetSmart jumped 12.5 per cent as activist investor Jana Partners disclosed a 9.9 per cent stake in the company. Jana said it was exploring "strategic alternatives," including a possible sale of the company, according to a securities filing.

Metals producer Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold gained 1.8 per cent following a report that it wants to sell a large copper mine in Chile, a transaction that could net several billion dollars.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.65 per cent from 2.63 per cent on Wednesday, while the 30-year advanced to 3.48 per cent from 3.47 per cent. Bond yields and prices move inversely.

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