U.S. stocks opened higher Friday as U.S. unemployment rate in May increased slightly, easing investors' fears that the U.S. Federal Reserve may start tapering soon.
Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 175,000 in May, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent in April, the U.S. Labor Department said. Meanwhile, non-farm payroll employment in April was revised down to 149,000 from 165,000, the department said.
Analysts expected non-farm payroll employment in May to add 170,000 while jobless rate remains unchanged.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last month in a testimony to Congress that the central bank would scale back its massive asset purchases in the next few policy meetings if the jobs market shows consistent improvement.
Debates over tapering the stimulus among Fed officials are heating up, causing the stock market to be very choppy recently.
Former Fed chief Alan Greenspan told CNBC early Friday that asset purchases should end even if the economy is not considered as strong enough for it.
"The thing that is the most important positive force in the economy at the moment is the fact that equity premiums are so high, which means that the downside on stock prices is quite limited," he added.
Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 67.19 points, or 0.45 percent, to 15,107.81 points. The S&P 500 rose 7.19 points, or 0.44 percent, to 1,629.75 points. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 10.37 points, or 0.30 percent, to 3,434.42 points.