Stocks ended off the highs of the day as technology slumped, but a surprisingly strong jobs report gave a lift to the market as it ended higher for a second straight week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 56.99 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 12,376.72. The blue-chip index gained 156.13 points, or 1.3 percent, this week, and was up for the second week in a row, rising 4.37 percent.
Caterpillar rose the most on the Dow for the week, gaining nearly 3.7 percent for the week, while Hewlett-Packard fell the most, losing 3.65 percent.
The S&P 500 rose 6.58 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 1,332.41. For the week, the S&P rose 18.61 points this week, or 1.4 percent. The S&P 500 has risen 4.2 percent over the last two weeks.
AT&T rose the most on the S&P Index this week, gaining more than 6 percent, while Apple fell the most, losing nearly 2 percent.
The Nasdaq gained 8.53 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,789.60 on Friday. For the week, the tech-heavy index gained 46.54 points this week, or 1.7 percent. The Nasdaq has risen 145.93 points, or 5.5 percent, in the past two weeks.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell below 18.
Among key S&P sectors, industrials and consumer staples gained, while technology and telecom fell.
While some investors don't expect the strong showing from the beginning of the year to extend through April, Ryan Detrick, senior technical analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research points out that April has proven to be a very strong month for the last five years, posting returns of more than 4 percent.
"We would not be shocked if we have an upward surprise in earnings season, and that could be a major catalyst to higher prices in April," Detrick sad.
Another technical point in the market's favor: when the S&P 500 rises more than 5 percent in a quarter (like it just did), it's very bullish for April as well as the rest of the year, according to Schaeffer's research, which notes that this has happened only four times since 1987. In these instances, the S&P 500 averages a return of more than 16 percent for the rest of the year, Schaeffer said.
The payrolls report—showing a gain of 216,000 jobs in March and a decline in the unemployment rate to 8.8 percent—comes against a backdrop of stronger economic growth, even in the face of rising oil prices, said Timothy Speiss, chairman of Personal Wealth Advisors for EisnerAmper.
"I would say unemployment numbers should continue to trend downward unless gasoline prices approach $4," Speiss said.
The fact the unemployment has already come down to 8.8 percent from 10.1 percent in 2009, is great news, he added.
"It’s not happening fast enough for people," Speiss said, but added he expects the rate with get down to the low 8s by the fall. And that should start to boost housing, one sector of the economy that's lagged, he said.
"If you have declining unemployment, you should see an impact in home acquisitions and reduced foreclosures," Speiss said. "And if you see that occur, then housing prices should start to stabilize."
The number is in line with continuing drops in jobless claims, and a strong private sector payrolls report from ADP on Wednesday.
The strong payrolls report is increasing talk among market participants over when the Federal Reserve will exit its monetary stimulus and when it might raise interest rates.