- U.S. stocks opened higher on Friday, supported by the release of upbeat U.S. employment data and despite a disappointing U.S. trade balance report.

During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.32%, the S&P 500 added 0.26%, while the Nasdaq Composite index edged up 0.17%.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the economy added 175,000 jobs in February, compared to expectations for a 149,000 increase. January''s figure was revised up to a 129,000 gain from a previously estimated 113,000 rise.

The U.S. private sector added 162,000 jobs last month, exceeding expectations for a 154,000 rise. January''s figure was revised up to a 145,000 increase from a previously estimated 142,000 gain.

The report also showed that the U.S. unemployment rate ticked up to 6.7% in February, from 6.6% the previous month. Analysts had expected the unemployment rate to remain unchanged last month.

Meanwhile, data also showed that the U.S. trade deficit expanded to $39.1 billion in January, from $38.98 billion in December, whose figure was revised from a previously estimated deficit of $38.7 billion.

Analysts had expected the trade deficit to expand to $39.00 billion in January.

Ford Motor, climbed 0.57% after the automaker awarded Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally $13.8 million in stock for the automaker’s performance last year.

Twitter gained 0.44% as the microblogging service was said to have paid $36 million to acquire 900 patents from International Business Machines Corp. IBM shares edged up 0.09% after hours.

Sony added to gains, as U.S.-traded shares of the tech giant rose 0.33% after it named Shawn Layden president and chief executive officer of Sony Computer Entertainment America, the unit overseeing the U.S. PlayStation game business.

On the downside, Safeway plummeted 2.51% after the supermarket operator agreed on Thursday to be acquired by Cerberus’s Albertsons for about $40 a share. The deal will reportedly unite two chains with locations across the U.S.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were sharply lower. The EURO STOXX 50 tumbled 1.03%, France’s CAC 40 retreated 0.78%, Germany''s DAX plunged 1.48%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 declined 0.59%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.19%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index jumped 0.92%.

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