By Peter Schroeder - 02/03/12 09:40 PM EST
Boosted by a strong jobs report, the stock market climbed Friday to heights not seen since the beginning of the financial crisis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Friday up nearly 160 points, or 1.25 percent, reaching its highest level since May 2008. The NASDAQ jumped to its highest point since 2000, climbing 46 points or 1.61 percent.
Before markets opened Friday, the Labor Department reported that the United States had added 243,000 jobs in January, easily beating expectations from economists, who had predicted the number would come in around 150,000. In addition, the data revealed the unemployment rate had dipped to 8.3 percent, its lowest level in nearly three years.
Further goosing the stock market were additional economic reports released Friday that showed hiring in the service sector was at its fastest rate in nearly a year.
A growing stock market and decreasing unemployment rate bode well for President Obama's reelection chances; he hopes to run with a resurgent economy on his resume.
The president warned Congress Friday to make sure it did everything it could to keep the economy gaining momentum.
"Do not slow down the recovery ... don't muck it up," he said at an event in Arlington, Va.