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Stocks zigzag on implications of jobs report

November 07, 2009|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Investors undaunted by a surprisingly weak report on the job market found enough positive news to nudge stocks higher Friday.

The Dow Jones industrials added 17 points, while oil prices slumped and gold neared $1,100 an ounce.

The news that the unemployment rate topped 10% last month for the first time in 26 years doesn't bode well for consumer spending, a key driver of the economy.

"The consumer remains cautious, and if they remain cautious they don't spend," said Michael Feser, president of Zecco Trading.

Some analysts found reasons for optimism in the report, such as a rise in the number of temporary service jobs. Companies that are reluctant to commit to hiring will often first bring in temps to meet demand until they're more confident about a turnaround in the economy.

Linda Duessel, equity market strategist at Federated Investors, noted that payroll numbers turn higher an average of 4 1/2 months after temp numbers begin to rise.

"We've been looking for temps to turn, and they turned," Duessel said. "It's good."

The Labor Department said employers cut 190,000 jobs last month, fewer than the 219,000 jobs lost in September but more than forecast. The market has been expecting unemployment to top 10% before peaking.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 17.46 points, or 0.2%, to 10,023.42, boosting its gain for the week to 311 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.67 points, or 0.3%, to 1,069.30, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 7.12 points, or 0.3%, to 2,112.44.

The Russell 2,000 index of smaller companies fell 0.1%.

Advancing stocks narrowly outpaced those that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

For the week, the Dow and the S&P 500 index jumped 3.2%, while the Nasdaq climbed 3.3%.

The job report was dour enough to push long-term Treasury yields down as some investors sought the relative safety of government debt. The yield on the benchmark 10-year T-note fell to 3.5% from 3.53% late Thursday.

Oil fell $2.19 to settle at $77.43 a barrel in New York trading.

Gold rose $6.40 to a record close of $1,095.10 an ounce, giving the metal a gain of 5.3% for the week.

An index of the dollar's value against other major currencies rose 0.1%.

In other market highlights:

* Shares of General Electric jumped 6.2% after analysts raised their ratings on the conglomerate's stock.

* Starbucks shot up 7.2% after the coffee chain late Thursday reported a rise in quarterly profit and, citing an increase in customers, raised its earnings forecast for the fiscal year that began this month.

* Overseas, key stock indexes rose 0.3% in Britain, 0.1% in Germany and 0.7% in Japan. Shares edged lower in France.

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