U.S. stocks pared early losses to trade higher midday Monday, as the unexpectedly downbeat jobs report gave investors some relief that the Federal Reserve will move more slowly in raising rates.
At noon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 88.09 points, or 0.50 percent, to 17,851.33. The S&P 500 rose 15.18 points, or 0. 73 percent, to 2,082.14. The Nasdaq Composite Index increased 29. 36 points, or 0.60 percent, to 4,916.30.
Friday's disappointing jobs report, which came out while the market was closed for Good Friday, spurred concerns about the weak economic growth in early 2015.
The U.S. economy added 126,000 jobs in March, well below economists' estimate of 245,000, and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday.
"To give an idea how much weaker-than-expected this number is, before today there had not been a month in the past year when payroll growth was less than 200,000. Now, the three-month average is 197,000," said Chris Low Friday, chief economist at FTN Financial, in a note.
Speculations about an early rate hike, however, eased after the report. Fed-funds futures prices, which reflect investors' expectations about U.S. monetary policy, showed Monday that most market participants now see the Fed waiting until December to deliver a rate hike.
New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley said Monday that the central bank will watch subsequent data to see if March's report was an indicator of greater economic weakness, according to CNBC.
Dudley also said the U.S. economy faces some downside growth risk from the rising U.S. dollar and declining oil prices.
Meanwhile, the Non-Manufacturing Index registered 56.5 percent in March, 0.4 percentage point lower than the February reading, said the Institute for Supply Management in its monthly survey.