Watch CBSN Live

Dow Sprints To A Record High

March has come in like a bull on Wall Street. With its two-day, 450-point rally, the Dow ended the week up nearly five percent, reports CBS News Business Correspondent Anthony Mason.

The Dow industrials soared 268 points Friday, posting the biggest two-day gain ever for the index and moving within 260 points of 10,000.

"The market put on a terrific performance today," said Ted Weisberg of Seaport Securities. "It put on a terrific performance yesterday."

The catalyst Friday was February's job numbers. While the economy created 275,000 new jobs, the unemployment rate edged up slightly to 4.4 percent and average hourly earning were up a mere penny for the month.

To Wall Street, those numbers signaled that inflation is under control, and erased fears that Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan would raise interest rates.

Larry Wachtel of Prudential Securities said, "When the Fed is your friend everything wonderful happens. When Alan Greenspan goes against you, Goodbye Charlie. Leave town."

The markets also liked the sales retailers rang up in February. Walmart, the nation's largest chain said sales were up 17 percent from a year ago. The Gap reported a 32 percent jump.

"The consumer won't quit," said Wachtel. "The consumer is a spending machine."

And what about the stock market? When will it quit?

Weisberg says, "I have to think 10,000 is within easy reach based on today's performance."

At the end of the day, the Dow was only 260 points away, and with an interest-rate hike now seeming out of the question, some believe 10,000 could come as early as next week.

Other indexes also rose sharply, but none set records Friday.

Stocks have been struggling of late, grinding back and forth, amid uncertainty over whether company profits will justify the market's huge rebound since early October, when the Dow dipped below 7,500.

The average hourly earnings, a gauge of business costs, rose a smaller-than-expected one cent to $13.04, representing an increase of just 3.6 percent over the past year.

The inflation-sensitive bond market also soared on the report. The price of the 30-year Treasury bond, which was up more than two points in early trading, rose 1 15/32 points or $14.69 per $1,000 in face value. Its yield, which moves in the opposite direction, fell to 5.59 percent from 5.69 percent late Thursday.

The surge on Wall Street followed big gains overnight in global financial markets. Japan's main market index climbed five percent on the best day of trading of this year. In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index gained 1.7 percent, while main market indicators rose 2.5 percent in Frankfurt and Paris.

Leading Friday's gains were blue-chip stocks. All 30 Dow components rose Friday. Financial stocks were also higher as the potential for an interest-rate hike diminished.

While technology stocks were mostly higher Friday, they failed to keep pae with the gains in other sectors. After leading the market rebound in recent months, technology shares have been battered in recent weeks amid concerns over profits and slowing personal-computer sales.