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Wall Street starts quarter with gains amid strong economic data

U.S. stocks cleared initial losses and turned higher, starting a new quarter on a positive note, as a solid jobs report and data from the manufacturing sector helped offset declines overseas and a drop in the price of oil.

"We came into the session with a significant headwind, and that is global markets are down and oil is off more than 3 percent, but then we had the tailwind of unambiguously good news on the economic data stream," Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, said. "Average hourly earnings are up more than expected and the labor participation rate up more than expected, and it feels like we might get a pivot in manufacturing."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 108 points, or 0.6 percent, to 17,793, with Goldman Sachs leading gains that included 24 of 30 blue-chip components.

The S&P 500 added nearly 13 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,073, with health pacing sector gains and energy sector losses.

The Nasdaq Composite gained nearly 45 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,915.

Crude's decline below $37 a barrel took out some of the steam that came with the government's monthly employment report that had the economy adding more jobs than expected and wages and labor-force participation both increasing.

An industry report showed growth in manufacturing started up again in March, supported by strength in new orders. The Institute for Supply Management reported its gauge of factory activity climbed to 51.8 from 49.5 in February. The better-than-expected reading of above 50 indicates expansion, while an under-50 level would have pointed to contraction.

Oil tallied its first weekly drop since February, with Saudi Arabia signaling it would only freeze output if Iran and other producing nations did the same. West Texas Intermediate fell $1.55, or 4 percent, to close at $36.79 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.