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U.S. stocks steadying after Friday's big sell off

NEW YORK - U.S. stocks made slight gains on Monday as the market steadied after a big-sell off on Friday. Stocks slumped last week when a strong jobs report boosted expectations that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates this summer.

GM gained after announcing a $5 billion stock buyback to appease an activist investor.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose seven points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,078 as of 11:50 a.m. ET. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 131 points, or 0.7 percent, to 17,988 points. The Nasdaq composite was up six points at 4,933.

General Motors announced that it would buy back $5 billion of its own stock by the end of the year. The move is part of a deal with Harry Wilson, an activist investor and a former member of the government task force that restructured GM coming out of its 2009 bankruptcy. In exchange, Wilson agreed to withdraw his hostile candidacy for the Detroit automaker's board of directors. GM's stock rose 96 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $37.50.

A bull market for stocks reached its sixth anniversary on Monday. On this day in 2009, the S&P 500 bottomed out at 676.53 after slumping nearly 60 percent in 18 months in the wake of the housing market collapse and the Great Recession. Since then the index has tripled thanks to a recovering economy and record company earnings.

Macerich, a real estate investment trust that specializes in retail properties, climbed $5.06, or 5.8 percent, to $91.80 after Simon Property bid $16 billion in cash and stock for the company.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to unveil the company's smartwatch and make the case for why it's a must-have gadget at a San Francisco event later Monday. Apple teased the smartwatch in September but has given few details. Apple's stock rose $1.43, or 1.1 percent, to $128.05.

February sees 295,000 jobs added as unemployment rate falls

Stocks slumped on Friday after a Labor Department report showed that the U.S. added 295,000 jobs in February. That ratcheted up expectations that Federal Reserve policy makers will raise interest rates as soon as June. The Fed has held interest rates close to zero for more than six years to stimulate growth following the financial crisis and Great Recession.

The European Central Bank started its 60 billion euro ($65 billion) per month bond-buying program on Monday. The bank hopes the purchases will stimulate the eurozone economy and get inflation back to the bank's target of just below 2 percent. At present, consumer prices in the 19-country currency bloc are falling at an annual rate of 0.3 percent.

France's CAC-40 fell 0.6 percent while Germany's DAX was flat. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.6 percent lower.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 95 cents to $50.57 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 19 cents to $59.94 per barrel in London.

U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.19 percent from 2.25 percent on Friday.

The divergence between the Fed and the ECB's monetary policies has pushed the euro lower against the dollar. After falling to its lowest in 12 years against the dollar on Friday, the euro recovered some ground on Monday, trading at $1.0869. The dollar was flat against the Japanese currency at 120.86 yen.

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