Strong jobs report sends Dow to highest since '08

February 3, 2012
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Trader Warren Meyers, right, is illuminated by his handheld device as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday, Feb. 3, 2012. U.S. stocks are opening sharply higher after the unemployment rate dropped to the lowest in two years. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow Jones industrial average has closed at its highest level since before the 2008 financial crisis.

The Dow jumped 157 points Friday to close at 12,862. That's the highest since May 2008. The Nasdaq composite index closed at its highest level since December 2000.

Before the market opened, the Labor Department said companies hired 243,000 employees in January. That's the strongest job growth in nine months. The increase in hiring pushed the unemployment rate down to 8.3 percent.

The S&P 500 index added 19 points, or 1.5 percent, to 1,345.

More than four stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was 4.6 billion shares.