(Updates to market open)
April 2 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Thursday as a reading on the labor market came in better than expected in a positive sign for payrolls data on Friday.
Jobless claims unexpectedly fell in the latest week, suggesting the labor market continues to expand at a solid clip even as economic growth has stalled. The report follows lower-than-expected readings on private sector employment and manufacturing on Wednesday.
Investors were looking ahead to the March payrolls report, which will be released Friday, a stock market holiday for Good Friday. As a result, market participants will be unable to trade off the report until Monday.
“People are looking ahead to the jobs report and right now it would be a surprise if it was weaker than expected,” said John Carey, portfolio manager at Pioneer Investment Management in Boston, though he said playing it ahead of time could be tricky.
“If the report is weaker than expected, people might become more optimistic about interest rates,” he said. “Bad news could be good news.”
The Federal Reserve has said it won’t raise interest rates until it deems the economy strong enough to withstand such a move, which will raise borrowing costs and possibly crimp spending. A below-consensus jobs number on Friday could ease concerns of a nearer-term rate rise, Carey said.
The release of the jobs report has only coincided with Good Friday four times since 1999, according to data from Bespoke, most recently in 2012. Analysts expect 245,000 jobs to have been added in the month, down from 295,000 in February.
The day’s gains were broad, with all 10 primary S&P 500 sectors higher on the day.
Energy rose 0.6 percent despite a drop of 1 percent in U.S. crude futures. The commodity fell as nuclear talks between officials from the big global powers and Iran continued. If the talks are successful, that could allow Iran to release more crude oil onto world markets at a time when concerns about oversupply have already contributed to the commodity being down more than 50 percent since June.
CarMax Inc jumped 7.8 percent to $73.72 as the S&P 500’s biggest percentage gainer after it reported fourth-quarter results that topped expectations.
Micron Technology Inc late Wednesday forecast lower revenue for the current quarter. Still, shares rose 0.6 percent to $27.30.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 83.25 points, or 0.47 percent, to 17,781.43, the S&P 500 gained 9.97 points, or 0.48 percent, to 2,069.66 and the Nasdaq Composite added 14.62 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,894.85.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,023 to 696, for a 2.91-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,584 issues rose and 760 fell, for a 2.08-to-1 ratio.
The S&P 500 was posting 10 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 53 new highs and 18 new lows. (Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)