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Dow comes within a whisker of hitting 20,000; S&P, Nasdaq close at all-time highs as tech pops

U.S. equities closed higher after hitting all-time highs on Friday as the technology sector led, while investors parsed through key employment data.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 65 points, with Goldman Sachs and Walt Disney contributing the most gains, and reached a new all-time intraday high. The Dow also came within 0.37 points of hitting 20,000 for the first time. The S&P 500 gained 0.35 percent and posted intraday and closing record highs, with information technology advancing 1 percent.

The Nasdaq composite outperformed, closing 0.6 percent higher, also hitting new all-time intraday and closing high. Leading the tech-heavy index higher were Apple and the so-called FANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet), which all rose.

"I think that part of the catalyst is this rotation into some of the sectors that had not caught the initial updrift" from the U.S. presidential election, said Daniel Deming, managing director at KKM Financial. "When you look at the tech sector, it was not viewed favorably" by investors right after Nov. 8.

"The Dow has been approaching 20,000 for several weeks now. Strong jobs news, combined with optimism about the incoming administration's policies is lifting stocks," said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones.

Dow intraday chartSource: FactSet

The U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in December, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economists polled by Reuters expected an increase of 178,000. The unemployment rate came in at 4.7 percent, in line with expectations.

"This report is very good," said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors. "The fantastic thing here is the jump in hourly wages." Average hourly wages rose 10 cents to $26, representing a 2.9 percent annualized gain.

Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, said the report was "a net positive." "I think the problem is that investors are coming to the realization that the stronger dollar could be a headwind ... for about 60 percent of the S&P 500."

The U.S. dollar rose 0.7 percent against six other currencies, a day after falling sharply. The euro dropped 0.6 percent against the greenback to $1.053 and the yen slid around 1.3 percent to 117.

Other data released Friday included November factory orders, which fell 2.4 percent, more than expected.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Getty Images
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Treasury prices, erased slight gains following the employment data release, with the 10-year note yield rising to 2.418 percent and the two-year note yield climbing to 1.218 percent.

"Treasuries sold off after the number because I think they are honing in on the better private sector upward revision to October and November which offset the December miss," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, in a note.

Stocks and Treasury yields have skyrocketed since President-elect Donald Trump's victory amid the prospects of looser regulations in certain sectors, lower tax rates and fiscal stimulus. Since then, major economic data have taken a backseat to transition-related news and investors assessing whether Trump's proposed policies will take effect.

"One of the ways we've been describing 2017 is 'the new abnormal,'" said State Street's Arone, noting that investors are now paying more attention to fiscal policy rather than monetary policy.

The Dow and S&P have risen more than 8 percent and 6 percent since Nov. 8, respectively. That said, the indexes entered the new year having posted a three-day losing streak to end 2016. "The incoming president usually enjoys a 'market honeymoon.' I think President-elect Trump might have gotten his before even taking office," said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.

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S&P 500
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NASDAQ
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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 64.51 points, or 0.32 percent, to close at 19,963.8, with Nike leading advancers and Verizon the top decliner.

The S&P 500 gained 7.98 points, or 0.35 percent, to end at 2,276.98, with information technology leading nine sectors higher and telecommunications lagging. Materials closed flat.

The Nasdaq composite advanced 33.12 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 5,521.06.

Decliners were a step ahead of advancers at the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 758.16 million and a composite volume of 3.279 billion at the close.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded near 11.3.

High-frequency trading accounted for 52 percent of January's daily trading volume of about 7.31 billion shares, according to TABB Group. During the peak levels of high-frequency trading in 2009, about 61 percent of 9.8 billion of average daily shares traded were executed by high-frequency traders.

On tap this week:

Saturday

11:15 a.m. Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell at AEA annual meeting

11:15 a.m. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari at AEA