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Dow surges past 9,000 mark

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The Dow Jones industrial average shot back above 9,000 on Friday as new signs of a resilient U.S. economy eased concerns about the impact of Asia's financial crisis on American companies.

The Dow rose 167.15 points to 9,037.71, the biggest gain in four months and the first close above 9,000 in two weeks.Most broad-market indicators also posted big gains, although the Nasdaq composite index rose only modestly as investors remained hesitant about the technology group's heavy exposure to the Asian economy.

Disney surged 51/8 to 114 11/16 and Merck jumped 37/8 to 119 9/16 to lead the Dow, which gained 137.76 for the week, and now sits nearly 175 points below May 13's record of 9,211.84.

The rally came after the Labor Department reported that the nation's unemployment rate held at a 28-year low of 4.3 percent in May.

The data provided further evidence of strong labor conditions that could force companies to pay workers more and then raise prices. In fact, the report showed that hourly earnings rose 4 cents in May to $12.73, an increase of 4.3 percent higher than a year ago.

While the strength in payroll and wage levels may eventually prompt the Federal Reserve to slow the economy with higher interest rates, investors took Friday's report as a sign that domestic business remains strong enough to help offset the impact of the financial crisis in Asia.

"The economy is still good, and that ought to be good for earnings," Bill Barker, chief investment strategist at Dain Rauscher in Dallas, cautioning that it's still unclear how much and how long the Asian crisis will hurt company profits.

"The market will (struggle) until we have better visibility not only about the second quarter but the last half of the year," said Barker. "The market heaved a sigh of relief, but I didn't heave a sigh of relief."

The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 19.03 to 1,113.86, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 12.97 to 1,782.92.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by nearly a 2-to-1 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, where composite volume totaled 658.50 million shares, down from 676.21 on Thursday.

The NYSE composite index rose 9.02, and the American Stock Exchange composite index rose 3.66 to 713.12.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 2.50 to 454.24.

Overseas, Tokyo's Nikkei stock average fell 0.7 percent, Frankfurt's DAX index rose 1.7 percent and London's FT-SE 100 rose 1.5 percent.