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S&P 500 just shy of new bull market high

1:58 PM, Jan 4, 2013   |    comments
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange earlier this week.(Photo: Stephen Chernin, AFP/Getty)
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Stocks were trading in a narrow range Friday after the U.S. Department of Labor said the unemployment rate was unchanged in December at 7.8% and 155,000 nonfarm jobs were created -- on target with economists' forecasts.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index is up 0.3%, just shy of breaking through a new bull market high intraday. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.12%, but the Nasdaq composite index was down a scant 0.01%.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are on track to post the biggest one-week gain the first week of trading in 2013 compared to any week in 2012.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond rose to 1.93% from 1.9% Thursday and 1.7% last Friday. Gold prices fell $30, or 1.8%, to $1,645, suggesting that gold bugs don't see much of a threat of inflation in the latest employment report.

The euro is 0.1% higher against the dollar at 1.3051 while the dollar gained 0.8% against the yen at 88.16. The price of oil continued to fall, down 0.3% to $92.63 a barrel.

Wall Street stocks reacted poorly Thursday to minutes from the most recent meeting of the Federal Reserve that showed opinion was divided over how long the central bank should keep in place its program of economy-supporting bond purchases. The Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all ended Thursday's session with losses.

On Friday, market attention turned to the government's December jobs report.

Economists had forecast -- right on the money -- that employers added 155,000 jobs in December, according to a survey by FactSet. That would be slightly higher than November's 146,000, revised downward by 2,000 in today's report. The unemployment rate wa projected to remain at 7.7%.

The December employment data added some context to jobs reports released Thursday from private research firms that showed private-sector employers added a better-than-forecast 215,000 jobs in December, although weekly applications for unemployment benefits moved higher, to 372,000.

In Europe, stocks ended Friday modestly higher. The FTSE 100 index in London closed up 0.7% at 6,089.84. Germany's DAX 30 index ended up 0.3% at 7,776.37 and France's CAC 40 index finished up 0.2% at 3,730.02.

In Japan, the nation's benchmark Nikkei 225 leaped 2.8% to close at 10,688.11 as the stock index, closed over the recent holiday period, was given its first opportunity to react to Tuesday's announcement of a deal over the so-called "fiscal cliff" in Washington.

A weakening yen was also a factor helping to push Japanese stocks higher. Major markets in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region declined.

The Hang Sang index in Hong Kong finished up 0.3% to 23,331.09 Friday while Singapore's STI index ended almost flat at 3,225.22.

USA Today

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