May 03. 2013 11:40PM

Stocks rally to record highs

By Kate Gibson

NEW YORK - U.S. stocks on Friday rose to record heights, with the Dow industrials soaring above 15,000 and the S&P 500 index above 1,600, as Wall Street celebrated the April jobs report.

The milestones, only one of which was sustained into the close, came after the government reported the U.S. economy added more jobs than projected in April and the jobless rate fell to a four-year low.

"A couple of months ago, everybody was laughing at 1,600. But these (levels) are very important today because of the individuals on the sidelines. It's new money coming in, which helps push up stocks and to some degree feeds on itself," said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The record-breaking rally comes on the heels of Thursday's cut by the European Central Bank of its main refinancing rate, and the U.S. Federal Reserve a day earlier saying it would maintain its bond-buying program.

Better-than-expected corporate earnings have also bolstered equities, with the S&P 500 index up more than 13 percent for the year, and Wall Street's bull market in March entering a fifth year.

Up 1.8 percent from the week-ago close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record intraday high of 15,009.59, before ending at a record close of 14,973.96, up 142.38 points.

After hitting an intraday record of 1,618.46, the S&P 500 gained 16.83 points to 1,614.42, giving it a 2 percent weekly gain.

The S&P 500's rise above 1,600 comes 13 years after the S&P 500 first closed above 1,500, a landmark hit in March 2000, near the end of the dot-com bubble.

"We keep making highs, but we have not had a correction or an adjustment, which is concerning. You need to consolidate so people who want to get out can get out," Silverblatt said.

"If you're an institution, you need to be in the market to make money; those returns get reported regularly and you need to produce. If you're an individual, you don't want to get in at the top. Chasing returns is typically not a good idea," he added.

Shares making notable moves included LinkedIn Corp., down nearly 13 percent after projecting second-quarter sales below estimates, and Kraft Foods Group Inc., which rose 5.1 percent after reporting first-quarter profit that topped market expectations.

The Nasdaq Composite added 38.01 points to 3,378.63, with the technology-laden index posting a 3 percent weekly rise.

For every stock falling, roughly three gained on the New York Stock Exchange, where 713 million shares traded.

Composite volume neared 3.6 billion.

"It's more psychological, that (level of) 1,600 points. The same with the Dow at 15,000; they've never made landmarks together," said Silverblatt of the milestones reached by the S&P 500 at the open and by the Dow an hour later.

U.S. nonfarm payrolls increased by 165,000 last month after an upwardly revised 138,000 hike in March that was larger than initially estimated, the Labor Department reported Friday morning.

The unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent from 7.6 percent, with the current reading the lowest since December 2008.

The upbeat jobs report lifted Treasury yields and prospects for energy demand, with the price of oil futures rising $1.62 to end the session at $95.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Friday's other economic reports proved weaker than expected, with factory orders down 4 percent in March and a gauge of the nation's services sector expanding in April, but at a softer-than-anticipated pace.