- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Friday above 8,000 for the first time since early February, extending Wall Street’s rally and showing resilience after a monthly government report showed the U.S. economy lost another 663,000 jobs in March.

The Dow closed at 8,017.59, up 39.51 points. The Standard and Poor’s 500-stocks Index was up 8.12 points, to 842.50, and the NASDAQ closed at 1,621.87, up 19.24 points.

The NASDAQ composite index was helped by stocks in Research in Motion Ltd., the makers of BlackBerry, which rose on better-than-anticipated profits.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics report, a key economic indicator for Wall Street, was released before U.S. markets opened and amid a rally in March that continues.

On Thursday, the Dow gained 216.32 points to close at 7,977.92 — after breaking 8,000 for much of the afternoon. Friday marked the U.S. markets’ fourth straight day of gains.

The Dow until Friday had not closed above 8,000 since early February. The Dow is up 20.4 percent since March 9 — its best four-week run since 1933.

The labor report Friday also shows the national unemployment rate reached 8.5 percent, from 8.1 percent in February, its highest levels since 1983, when the country was still a deep recession and unemployment exceeded 10 percent.

The report marks a record fourth consecutive month in which the U.S. has lost more than 600,000. It also marks the 15th consecutive month of job losses and that more than 5 million jobs in the United States have been lost since the recession started in December 2007, according the the report.

The report Friday was the last of economic indicators this week that showed the U.S. economy could be touching bottom and heading for a recovery.

On Thursday, world leaders at the G-20 summit in London vowed to spend roughly $1.1 trillion to stimulate the global economy, tightening regulations in financial markets, rid banks of toxic debt so they can again make loans and expose take havens. The leaders also vowed to help improve the global economic crisis by bolstering the powers of the International Monetary Funds, in part with an additional $500 billion.

The release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics report marked the third consecutive day of dismal labor reports. A Labor Department report Thursday stated initial claims for unemployment insurance increased to a seasonally adjusted 669,000 — 12,000 more than the previous week’s revised figures. The number exceeded analysts expectations and is the highest in more than 26 years.

On Wednesday, an Automatic Data Processing Inc. report stated private-sector employment decreased by 742,000 in March. The same day, a National Association of Realtors report stated pending home sales rebounded in February from a record low. And the Institute for Supply Management reported U.S. manufacturing activity shrunk by less than anticipated. The numbers in both reports were better than anticipated.

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