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North American stock market indexes rose at the start of trading on Friday, after investors expressed some relief that the dismal job losses in February were at least what economists had been expecting - and not a whole lot worse.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 60 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 6655. General Electric Co. rose 5.4 per cent, even as investors remained concerned about the conglomerate financial health due to a widely anticipated credit rating downgrade.

Financials were strong, with JPMorgan Chase & Co. up 3.8 per cent and Bank of America Corp. up 3 per cent. Wells Fargo & Co., though not a member of the Dow, rose 8 per cent, even after the financial firm slashed its dividend by 85 per cent.

However, General Motors Corp. continued its decline a day after the company issued a statement from auditors suggesting that the auto maker's viability is in serious jeopardy. The shares fell 8.6 per cent.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index rose 48 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 7677 - mostly due to strong energy stocks after the price of oil approached $45 (U.S.) a barrel, up $1.37. Suncor Energy Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. each rose 3 per cent.

The banks were mixed, with Bank of Montreal rising 0.3 per cent and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce falling 0.5 per cent. Research In Motion Ltd. fell 1.2 per cent.


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