A pickup in hiring last month sent stocks higher Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average was up nearly 90 points in early trading, putting it on track for a fourth straight day of gains.

The Labor Department said U.S. employers added 103,000 jobs last month, about double what economists were expecting. It also said more jobs were added in July and August than previously reported.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 88 points, or 0.8 percent, to 11,212 an hour after the opening bell. Home Depot Inc., Dupont and Boeing Co. led the Dow higher. Only three of the Dow’s 30 components fell.

Broader indicators didn’t rise as much. The S&P 500 rose 4 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,169. The Nasdaq composite edged up 2, or 0.1 percent, to 2,508.

The gains in hiring weren’t enough to lower the unemployment rate, which remained steady at 9.1 percent last month. Traders watch the employment report closely because it provides the first significant snapshot of the previous month’s economic performance and clues to the broader outlook for the U.S. economy.

The increase in hiring was modest, not nearly enough to keep up with population growth. But expectations had been low. Economists had forecast that employers added only 56,000 jobs.

The report led traders to sell ultra-safe investments that earn small returns such as U.S. Treasurys. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.08 percent, up from 2.03 percent just before the report came out.

The monthly jobs report is one of the few pieces of data powerful enough to overshadow traders’ fears about Europe’s festering debt crisis. Markets gyrated this summer as leaped and dove as concerns intensified about a default by Greece. Many analysts now believe a default is unavoidable, and question whether Europe can prevent it from causing financial markets to seize up.

Short-term traders have reacted strongly to minor European developments, rumors and speculation. The Dow has closed up or down more than 100 points for nine straight trading days - the longest such streak since November 2008, in the middle of the financial crisis.

The Dow soared 468 points, or 4.4 percent, Tuesday through Thursday. Thursday’s 183-point rally followed an announcement by the European Central Bank that it would offer long-term emergency loans to banks.

© 2011 The Associated Press