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Stocks finish higher due to manufacturing, jobs data

NEW YORK - Wall Street carved out a solid advance Friday after data on job creation, manufacturing and inflation injected the market with renewed confidence about the economy and sent major indexes to record closes.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was the biggest gainer among the major indicators and moved toward its all-time trading high.

Investors found reason for optimism in a stronger-than-expected jobs report for May. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 157,000 last month, a larger increase than in April and more than analysts anticipated. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.5 percent, as forecast, according to the Labor Department report.

The economic picture appeared brighter still following a lower reading on inflation from the Commerce Department and data from the Institute for Supply Management's May survey, which indicated that the manufacturing sector was strengthening.

Investors have been trying to glean from recent economic data any clues about the state of the economy and the direction of interest rates. The market hopes a slowing economy will prompt the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates.