U.S. stocks opened higher Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average surging above the 17,000 mark for the first time, boosted by stronger-than-expected U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for June.
The blue-chip Dow and the S&P 500 also renewed their all-time intraday highs immediately after the opening bell and were on track to end the holiday-shortened week at record highs.
U.S. nonfarm payroll employment increased by 288,000 in June, the fifth consecutive month with job gains above 200,000, said the Labor Department Thursday. The fresh data was much higher than economists' expectations.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate unexpectedly declined from 6.3 percent to 6.1 percent in June, the department added.
The jobs gain in June reflected that "the labor market remains surprisingly and resiliently strong," said the Conference Board, a private research group based in New York, in a note Thursday.
"This is not just catch up after a bad winter. It also reflects some gathering strength in the economy," it added.
Due to the fast improving labor market and firming inflation, J.P. Morgan economists are pulling forward their projection for the Federal Reserve's tightening.
Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at J.P. Morgan, said Thursday that they now see lift-off of the federal funds rate occurring in the third quarter of 2015 rather than the fourth quarter of 2015 and expect the funds rate at 1.0 percent for year-end 2015 and 2.5 percent for 2016.
The Labor Department also reported that the number of Americans who initially applied for jobless benefits slightly increased 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 315,000 in the week ending June 28, in line with market forecast.
Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow jumped 65.20 points, or 0.38 percent, to 17,041.44. The S&P 500 rose 7.32 point, or 0.37 percent, to 1,981.94. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 15.36 points, or 0.34 percent, to 4,473.09.