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Jobs Report Juices Stocks; AmEx Jumps

Stocks rallied Friday after the latest employment numbers showed signs of a stabilizing job market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up about 150 points, or more than 1.5 percent. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 also gained more than 1.5 percent, pushing the S&P back above the 1,000 mark.

The jobs report showed 247,000 jobs were cutfrom nonfarm payrolls last month, less than the 320,000 expected, and the prior two months were revised to show 43,000 fewer jobs were lost from payrolls than first reported. The unemployment rate held at 9.4 percent.

"This is another indication that the economy is on an improving track and a confirmation that we're going to see a positive GDP number for the third quarter and we're going to be able to say that this recession ended in the third quarter of 2009," Robert Dye, senior economist at PNC Financial Services, told Reuters.

After a rally on Monday that sent the S&P above 1,000 for the first time since November, stocks had languished for the past few sessions amid jitters about this jobs report.

Heading into today's session, the Dow and S&P 500 were positive for the week by about 1%, while the Nasdaq was a few points lower. If all three can finish higher for the week, they would be up for the fourth consecutive week.

American Express was the biggest percentage gainer on the Dow as analysts say credit problems may be stabilizing.

AIG shares soared once again after the insurer easily surpassed expectations, posting its first profit in seven quarters.

The shares have nearly doubled this week for reasons that aren't totally clear. A short squeeze appears to be the most likely reason, rather than the earnings report.

Citigroup is said to be considering a variety of options, including selling its Phibro commodities unit and cutting loose its $100 million man.

Ford and GM are expected to be back in the spotlight after the Senate approved another $2 billionfor the "Cash For Clunkers" program.

A slew of earnings from last night beat expectations:

Nvidia shares rose more than 5 percent after the chip maker beat and a slew of firms raised their price targets on the stock.

Chiquita shares soared after the banana maker topped forecasts, helped by cost-cutting measures, and said itsfull-year results would be "significantly improved."

Crocs shares ticked higher after the antimicrobial plastic-shoe maker beat expectations and options traders bet on a further upside for the stock.

After the bell today, we'll hear from the one company that traditionally waits for a Friday afternoon to report its earnings: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway .

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