* Feb nonfarm payrolls increase 242,000
* HP Enterprise up after strong results
* Indexes up: Dow 0.28 pct, S&P 0.26 pct, Nasdaq 0.14 pct (Adds details, comment, updates prices)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
March 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were higher in choppy trading on Friday as data showing the economy added more jobs than expected last month was tempered by a drop in wages and hours worked.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by a 242,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. However, wages and hours worked fell, keeping a lid on inflation, a key factor in the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise rates.
The Fed has targeted a 2 percent annual inflation as a precursor to a sustained rise in interest rates.
“The number was strong enough to worry investors about the Fed’s desire to move again in March, and yet was not so strong to put on the table a higher-than-a-coin-toss probability that it occurs in March,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.
“The number had a little something for everybody, but at the same left enough confusion in the market to not take anything away from it.”
The Fed meets next on March 15-16. Traders still see the odds overwhelmingly against a rate hike this month.
While concerns linger over the state of the global economy, upbeat data from major economies this week and signs of a rebound in commodity prices have helped ease some of those worries.
“The report highlights a real divergence of opinions about where the U.S. economy is going next, and you are seeing that now in the way that the market doesn’t have much direction this morning,” said Tom Wright, director of equities at JMP Securities.
The S&P 500 has risen 2.3 percent this week, putting the index on track for its best three-week run of gains since early November.
At 10:55 a.m. ET (1555 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 47.97 points, or 0.28 percent, at 16,991.87, the S&P 500 was up 5.1 points, or 0.26 percent, at 1,998.5 and the Nasdaq Composite index was up 6.55 points, or 0.14 percent, at 4,713.97.
Eight of the 10 S&P sectors were higher, led by a 1.07 percent rise in the materials sector.
Shares of Hewlett Packard Enterprise were up 14 percent at $15.51 after the company reported better-than-expected profit and revenue.
Broadcom was up 7.4 percent at $147.38 after the chipmaker reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,961 to 878. On the Nasdaq, 1,612 issues rose and 953 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 13 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 21 new highs and 18 new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)