The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index recovered from a 0.9 percent drop that was triggered by a government report showing the unemployment rate climbed to a 25-year high of 8.5 percent last month. Wells Fargo & Co. added 6.6 percent and JPMorgan Chase & Co. climbed 4 percent, helping S&P 500 financial shares reverse a 1.7 percent loss. Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry e-mail phone, jumped 21 percent for the top advance in the Nasdaq-100 Index.
The S&P 500 added 1 percent to 842.5 to cap a fourth straight weekly advance, the longest winning streak since the bear market began in October 2007. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 39.51 points, or 0.5 percent, to 8,017.59. Both gauges closed at their highest levels since Feb. 9.
Stocks opened lower after the jobs report showed the nation’s employers cut 663,000 jobs last month, 3,000 more than economists estimated in a Bloomberg survey. Benchmark indexes turned higher around noon as Bernanke, speaking in Charlotte, North Carolina, hailed a decline in home-loan rates in the wake of the Fed’s purchases of mortgage securities and said the drop may help improve the housing market.
European stocks fell, trimming their fourth straight weekly advance, as a surge in U.S. unemployment to a 25-year high damped optimism that the worst of the global recession is over.
The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index slid 1 percent to 186.17. The measure posted its fourth week of gains, the longest streak since the global bear market that wiped out $37 trillion of equity value began in October 2007.
National benchmark indexes retreated in 14 of the 18 western European markets. France’s CAC 40 lost 1.1 percent and Germany’s DAX added 0.1 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 sank 2.3 percent as Tesco Plc retreated.
Asian stocks climbed, giving the regional benchmark index its fourth-straight weekly advance, as world leaders agreed on measures to fight the global recession.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.6 percent to 86.77 at 7:18 p.m. in Tokyo, taking its advance this week to 1.5 percent. The gauge has climbed 23 percent from a more than five-year low on March 9 amid speculation governments will succeed in easing the global financial crisis. A 20 percent gain is the technical level that indicates stocks may have entered a bull market.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.3 percent to 8,749.84, cutting its decline this year to 1.4 percent.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 1.5 percent. Markets advanced except in China, Indonesia and Malaysia. The MSCI World Index rose for a fourth week, having climbed 7.2 percent last month, the most since April 2003.