* U.S. payrolls surge, jobless rate hits 5-1/2 year low
* Indexes up: Dow 0.2 pct; S&P 0.2 pct; Nasdaq flat (Updates to open)
By Angela Moon
Still, while the report provided an encouraging read on thelabor market, investors said Wall Street's gains over the weekmade further advances unlikely.
U.S. job growth increased at its fastest pace in more thantwo years in April and the unemployment rate dived to a 5-1/2year low of 6.3 percent, the Labor Department said. The payrollsgain of 288,000 was the largest since January 2012 and beat WallStreet's expectations for an increase of just 210,000.
The unemployment rate tumbled 0.4 percentage point, touchingits lowest level since September 2008. The Labor Departmentattributed the decline to a drop in the number of unemployedpeople reentering the labor market as well as a fall in newentrants into the labor force.
"The headline number handily beat expectations, which bodeswell for the whole weather theme we saw throughout the firstquarter," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital inNew York.
"We'll move higher on this but we had a big move this week.We're at resistance right now, and it may take a little bit oftime to break above that."
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 30.96 points,or 0.19 percent, to 16,589.83, the S&P 500 gained 3.57points, or 0.19 percent, to 1,887.25 and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.412 points, or 0.03 percent, to 4,128.863.
For the week, the Dow has gained 1.4 percent, while the S&P500 and the Nasdaq are both up 1.3 percent.
In company news, U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc 'ssweetened 63 billion pound ($106 billion) bid for AstraZeneca (EUREX: AZNF.EX - news)Plc was promptly rejected by the British company Friday. Pfizer shares were down 1 percent at $30.84.
LinkedIn Corp shares slipped 4.7 percent to$153.68, a day after the social networking company forecast 2014revenue below Wall Street's expectations, underscoring concernsabout its ability to sustain its rapid growth.
Shares of Ares Management LP, the first U.S.private equity firm to go public in about two years, fell to alow of $18 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange afterbeing priced at $19, well below the expected range of $21-23, ina turbulent IPO market. They were last trading at $18.39.
German drugmaker Bayer AG (Milan: BAY.MI - news) is nearing an agreementto buy Merck (Dusseldorf: 6MK.DU - news) & Co Inc's consumer healthcare unit, peoplefamiliar with the matter said, in a deal that could value thebusiness at around $14 billion. Merck (Other OTC: MKGAF - news) shares lost 1.2 percent to$58.93. (Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by BernadetteBaum)
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