January 5, 2018 / 8:10 PM / in 10 months

US STOCKS-S&P 500, Nasdaq on track for best week in more than a year

* U.S. economy adds 148,000 jobs in Dec vs est. 190,000

* Average hourly earnings rise 0.3 pct, in line with estimates

* Energy stocks fall after oil prices retreat

* Indexes up: Dow 0.6 pct, S&P 0.5 pct, Nasdaq 0.6 pct (Updates to late afternoon)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, Jan 5 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were on track to post their best weekly gain in more than a year on Friday, as U.S. stocks extended their new year rally even after December U.S. job growth came in weaker than expected.

The Dow and S&P 500 also were set to register their strongest start to a year since 2013.

U.S. stocks this week have been adding to momentum from last year driven by a series of strong economic reports from across the globe. The passage of a major U.S. tax overhaul last month helped to fuel late-year gains, and the S&P 500 ended 2017 up 19.4 percent.

“We’re up over 2 percent for the first four days of 2018 so that’s pretty good. Markets are still working to figure out the implications of tax cuts, and that’s provided some of the lift along with already good economic forecasts,” said Mike Baele, managing director at U.S. Bank Private Client Wealth Management in Portland, Oregon.

The weak December U.S. jobs data also could help the Federal Reserve stick to its policy of gradual interest rate hikes in 2018, which would be good for stocks, he said.

U.S. job growth slowed more than expected in December amid a decline in retail employment, but a pickup in monthly wage gains pointed to labor market strength.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 148,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a rise of 190,000.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 139.75 points, or 0.56 percent, to 25,214.88, the S&P 500 gained 12.24 points, or 0.45 percent, to 2,736.23 and the Nasdaq Composite added 44.38 points, or 0.63 percent, to 7,122.30.

The S&P technology index’s 1-percent gain led the advancers among the 11 major S&P sectors.

Gains in Microsoft, Apple and Google-parent Alphabet boosted the index.

Energy index declined 0.3 percent as oil prices pulled away from their 2015 highs on soaring U.S. production.

Francesca’s Holdings tanked 20.3 percent. The women’s apparel and accessories maker said it expected up to 17 percent decline in current-quarter same-store sales.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.30-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.28-to-1 ratio favored advancers. (Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Nick Zieminski)

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