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US Labor Market Advance Pushes Stocks Higher

Stock indexes moved higher in the United States Friday after a government report showed sharp hiring gains in the American labor market in the last three months.

The Dow Jones average of 30 key stocks was ahead a half percentage point in early trading, as were the broader Nasdaq and Standard & Poor's indexes. Asian stocks finished ahead by about 2 percent, but European stocks were mixed.

The U.S. jobs report showed the country's employers have added nearly 600,000 jobs over the last three months, and at a consistent pace of nearly 200,000 a month. U.S. central bank officials are watching the pace of hiring as they decide whether they can safely cut back the securities purchases they have been making to pump money into the economy.

The U.S. economy is the world's largest, but its recovery from the recession in 2008 and 2009 has been sluggish.

The country's economy advanced only 1.8 percent in the first three months of the year, but the latest jobs report seems to support the view of some analysts that the advance will be faster in the last half of the year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.