July 6, 2018 / 4:57 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Strong U.S. jobs growth helps Wall Street overlook trade worries

* June nonfarm payrolls rise 213,000, top estimates

* Biogen jumps on trial results, lifts biotech stocks

* Tech stocks rally, led by Apple

* Indexes up: Dow 0.56 pct, S&P 0.88 pct, Nasdaq 1.27 pct (Updates to early afternoon)

By Sruthi Shankar and Savio D’Souza

July 6 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rose to two-week highs on Friday as strong U.S. jobs growth and a surge in Biogen’s shares helped ease fears of an escalating U.S.-China trade dispute.

Biogen rose as much as 15.7 percent and was set for its biggest percentage gain in over a decade after the company and Japanese drugmaker Eisai Co said their Alzheimer’s drug showed promise in a mid-stage trial.

The S&P healthcare index rose 1.3 percent, while the Nasdaq biotech index jumped 3.2 percent.

The gains were broad based, with all the 11 major S&P indexes and 29 of the 30 Dow components rising.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 213,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said, topping expectations of 195,000, while the unemployment rate rose from an 18-year low to 4 percent and average hourly earnings rose 0.2 percent.

The moderate wage growth allayed fears of a strong build-up in inflation pressures, keeping the Federal Reserve on a path of gradual interest rate increases.

“Today’s number really doesn’t indicate that wage pressures are getting out of hand, that’s a positive for the market,” said Anthony Saglimbene, global market strategist, Ameriprise Financial Services in Troy, Michigan.

Dispute between the United States and its trading partners has rippled through financial markets since early March when President Donald Trump first threatened tariffs on metal imports.

The United States and China slapped tit-for-tat duties on $34 billion worth of each other’s imports on Friday, with Beijing accusing Washington of triggering the “largest-scale trade war”.

Trump also warned the United States may ultimately target over $500 billion worth of Chinese goods, an amount that roughly matches its total imports from China last year.

“You’re going to get some stalling of the market, should trade issues begin to accelerate,” said Gerry Sparrow, a portfolio manager for Interactive Brokers Asset Management, a Boston-based online investing company.

At 12:36 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 136.32 points, or 0.56 percent, at 24,493.06, the S&P 500 was up 24.07 points, or 0.88 percent, at 2,760.68 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 96.13 points, or 1.27 percent, at 7,682.55.

Besides Biogen, technology heavyweights Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon provided the biggest boost to the markets.

The S&P technology index was up 1.2 percent.

Boeing, the single largest exporter to China, rose 0.7 percent to lead the Dow, after trading lower in the morning session. Caterpillar was the only decliner on the blue-chip index, with a 0.05 percent loss.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 3.33-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.79-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 19 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 105 new highs and 12 new lows. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Savio D’Souza in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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