Burst of hiring gives US stocks a modest lift; Dow flirts with 18,000 level

U.S. stocks are finishing modestly higher after the government reported a surge in hiring last month.

Employers added 321,000 jobs in November, the biggest burst of job creation in almost three years and far more than economists were expecting.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 58 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 17,958. It came within nine points of the 18,000 mark earlier.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained three points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,075. The Nasdaq composite climbed 11 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,780.

Financial stocks rose the most of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index.

Crude oil lost 97 cents to $65.84 a barrel in New York.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.30 percent.