The Dow Jones industrial average clawed higher to end above 8,000 for the first time in nearly two months and logged an impressive fourth consecutive week of gains.
The last time the Dow rose for four consecutive weeks was between September and October of 2007 - when the index reached its all-time high above 14,000.
The Labor Department's March unemployment report was a big hurdle for the market. The numbers were grim but not terrible enough to derail an emerging sense of optimism over the past four months that the economy might be beginning to right itself.
Tom Phillips, the president of TS Phillips Investments in Oklahoma City, said the improved tone is helping traders react more moderately to bad news than they might have even a month ago.
"If the expectation was for truly horrendous numbers and they're only ugly, that's a good thing," he said.
While many investors are looking ahead to an eventual recovery, others say Wall Street might be just as short-sighted now as it was when it was panicking. Potential pitfalls lie ahead not just for the job market, but also in corporate earnings reports and outlooks that start pouring in next week.
Friday's close is the Dow's highest since Feb. 9, when the index ended at 8,270.87. A month later, the index sank to a nearly 12-year low of 6,547.05, but it's now 22.5 percent above that trough.
The rally that began in March has been the Dow's biggest four-week advance since 1933.
The market could still recover even if unemployment remains high. Wall Street will just
want signs that prospects for the labor market aren't getting far worse.
In downturns during the past 60 years, the S&P 500 index has hit bottom an average of four months before a recession ended and about nine months before unemployment hit its peak.