March 7 - Summary: Dow, S&P 500 creep up as stronger-than-expected jobs data not enough to push Wall Street far beyond recent record, Ukraine still eyed; Visa, MasterCard join forces to battle electronic payment threats. Conway G. Gittens reports.
It's another record for the S&P 500 - but barely; gains after a surprise jobs reported wilted with investors keeping an eye on Ukraine. In the end, The Dow and S&P 500 tip-toed into positive territory but the Nasdaq was down. For the week, blue chips were up and the Nasdaq extends its advance to week number five. U.S. employers added 175,000 new jobs in February, much more than economists expected. And figures for December and January were upwardly revised. White House economic adviser Betsey Stevenson: SOUNDBITE: BETSEY STEVENSON, MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS, (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "There was a lot of weather influence on the labor market last month, you know, so we're certainly pleased to see a number like a 175,000 despite that. I think, again, we just keep our eye focused on that longer-term trend. It does look like over the last twelve months we've been adding jobs at roughly rate of 2.2 million private sector jobs a year." A pick-up in jobs could be a sign the economy is in a decent shape, decent enough for the Federal Reserve to keep on trimming bond purchases, which sent yields on the 10-year note to a six-week high. Frank Friedman, chief financial officer at Deloitte, says managers are gaining confidence and that should lead to even more hiring. SOUNDBITE: FRANK FRIEDMAN, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER AND MANAGING PARTNER OF FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION, DELOITTE (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "I think you'll see them hiring more and more as they continue to gain confidence about the economy. And, you know, today's numbers were good. It was a relief, I think, for a lot of people that they were good, because had they been bad, we would have looked really deep into the numbers and say 'wow, it must have been the weather or something.' This kind of takes weather off the table, gives them some confidence." Job seekers are also gaining confidence. The unemployment rate edged up to 6.7 percent as Americans came back to the workforce. On the trading floor, shares of the headphone maker Skullcandy soared more than 24 percent after the company posted results that topped analysts' expectations. And Big Lots was up roughly 22 percent after the close-out retailer reported a better-than-expected adjusted profit for the holiday quarter. Visa and MasterCard are teaming up to make electronic payments more secure. The world's two largest credit card networks spearheading a collaborative effort that includes banks, credit unions and retailers in hopes of better protecting card users. European shares fell hard with traders still looking at the simmering crisis in Ukraine and not willing to hold positions over the weekend.