- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 4, 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 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 was up 8.12 points to 842.50, and the Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 1,621.87, up 19.24 points.

The Nasdaq was helped by shares of Research in Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry, which rose on better-than-anticipated profits.

The Labor Department report was released amid a stock market rally that began in March and continued through Friday. On Thursday, the Dow gained 216.32 points to close at 7,977.92 after breaking 8,000 in intraday trading.

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.

That performance helped fuel the anger of hundreds of demonstrators who took to Wall Street Friday to protest the billions of dollars in bailout money the federal government has directed to big business, including Wall Street investment firms.

The crowd chanted “Whose street? Our street!” the protesters marched along Broadway and through the narrow streets in downtown Manhattan. They walked past the headquarters of American International Group Inc. and several banks that received federal funds to stay afloat, the Associated Press reported.

The crowd planned a second protest Saturday.

Friday’s unemployment report marked a record fourth consecutive month in which the United States has lost more than 600,000 jobs. It also marks the 15th consecutive month of job losses. More than 5 million jobs have been lost since the recession started in December 2007, according the report.

The report marked the third consecutive day of dismal labor statistics. A Labor Department report Thursday stated that 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 was the highest in more than 26 years. On Wednesday, an Automatic Data Processing Inc. report stated that private-sector employment decreased by 742,000 in March.

The same day, a National Association of Realtors report stated that pending home sales rebounded in February from a record low. And the Institute for Supply Management reported that U.S. manufacturing activity shrank by less than anticipated. The numbers in both reports were better than anticipated.

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