NEW YORK — An unexpectedly strong jobs report gave stocks a lift on Friday, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average back to an all-time high.
The gains were led by banks, such as Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, which stand to benefit from a pickup in lending as the economy strengthens. Consumer-focused stocks such as Priceline.com and Disney also rose after reporting higher profits, and Gap soared after raising its earnings forecast. Losers included housing stocks and Twitter, which dropped 7 percent the day after its initial public offering.
The jobs survey left investors grappling with how to interpret this week’s surprisingly strong economic data and what it means for the Federal Reserve’s economic stimulus program. On Thursday the government reported that U.S. economic growth accelerated in the third quarter. The Fed’s stimulus has helped power this year’s stock rally.
“We’re walking a tight wire with the Fed,” said Rob Lutts, Chief Investment Officer at Cabot Money Management. Lutts said the job survey was positive because it showed the economy was improving, but perhaps not strongly enough to assure that Fed policymakers will pull back on its bond-buying program before the end of year.
The Dow gained 167.80 points, or 1.1 percent, to 15,761. The Dow also closed at a record high on Wednesday.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index ended 23.46 higher, or 1.3 percent, at 1,770.61, just a point below its record. The Nasdaq composite rose 61.90 points, or 1.6 percent, to 3,919.23.
Both the Dow and the S&P 500 recovered all of their losses from Thursday, when concern about the Fed withdrawing its stimulus outweighed optimism about faster economic growth.
The reaction to the jobs report was even more pronounced in the bond market. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note jumped to the highest in six weeks as investors sold bonds, anticipating less demand for them if the Fed slows its purchases. Rising interest rates are a sign that investors are more confident in the economy. They are a boon to banks because it means that they can lend money at higher rates.