NEW YORK -- A drop in the unemployment rate to its lowest in three years propelled the Dow Jones industrial average Friday to its highest close since before the 2008 financial crisis. The Nasdaq composite index hit an 11-year high.

"In this economy, only one variable matters right now, and that variable is employment," said Lawrence Creatura, an equity portfolio manager at Federated Investors.

The Dow jumped 156.82, or 1.2 percent, to 12,862.23, its highest mark since May 19, 2008, about four months before the Lehman Brothers investment bank collapsed.

The S&P 500 index added 19.36, or 1.3 percent, to 1,344.90, its highest close since last July.

The Nasdaq index closed up 45.98, or 1.6 percent, to 2,905.66, its highest level since December 2000, during the steep decline that followed the dot-com stock bubble.

Berkeley Electric's boss to retire later this year

MONCKS CORNER -- E.E. Strickland, the longtime president of Berkeley Electric Cooperative, announced Friday that he will retire Oct. 19.

Strickland joined Berkeley Electric in 1980 and served 32 years as president.

During his tenure the cooperative grew from a small, rural electric utility serving less than 30,000 members to a modern electric distribution system serving more than 80,000 members in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties.

The cooperative has not named a replacement.

Buyer of S.C.'s first 787 set to clear sale hurdle

Boeing South Carolina's first customer, Air India, will receive final approval from its government on Thursday to buy the 27 Dreamliners it has ordered, Bloomberg Businessweek reported Friday.

The South Asian nation's flag carrier ordered the fuel-efficient 787 jets in 2005, but a three-year program delay and Air India's money problems have threatened that plan over the past several months.

The airline's board considered cutting the order in half, but after the airline was approved for a loan from the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., decided to proceed with its full order via a sale-leaseback arrangement.

Meanwhile, Boeing has delivered five Dreamliners so far, two this year. The company plans to deliver its first 787 assembled in North Charleston this spring to Air India.

Crash of experimental plane kills Micron's CEO

BOISE, Idaho -- A small experimental plane piloted by the CEO and chairman of Micron Technology crashed after take-off Friday at the Boise airport, killing the head of the memory chip maker who survived a similar crash eight years ago.

Steve Appleton, a professional stunt pilot, was the only person aboard the plane when witnesses said it steeply banked, stalled and rolled to the ground, said an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. Trading in the company's stock was halted.

Bank of America looks at divesting real estate

NEW YORK -- Bank of America might sell all its offices as part of an effort to cut costs, sparing only its headquarters in North Carolina and New York City.

"We are currently reviewing all of our properties across our portfolio, with the exception of Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte and Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park" in Manhattan, a spokeswoman said Friday.

The lender owned or leased about 120 million square feet in 26,910 locations at the end of 2010, mostly in the U.S., according to its last annual report.

CEO Brian Moynihan is re-evaluating the bank's real estate needs as he eliminates at least 30,000 positions and seeks to trim as much as $8 billion in annual expenses. If the bank sells buildings, it will lease back space for operations.