Markets & Finance

Stocks Finish Mixed After Jobs Report


Stocks finished mixed Friday, as traders squared off positions for the weekend and a report showed growth in the November nonfarm payroll figures, supporting positive sentiment toward economic growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 35.06 points to 10,877.51. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.41 point to 1,265.08. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index gained 6.20 points, moving to 2,266.37 -- a four-year high.

January West Texas Intermediate crude oil settled up 85 cents at $59.32 a barrel as traders planned for the possibility of much colder weather, and prompted speculation of increased heating demand.

U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose by 215,000 in November, in line with market expectations. The September payroll figure was revised higher to 17,000 from an 8,000 drop. Unemployment remained steady at 5%, while average hourly earnings rose by 0.2%. "The year-over-year rise in earnings may ultimately be the focus, and could leave yields and the dollar firmer," says Action Economics.

In a speech Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the budget deficit poses risk to the economy. He noted that ignoring the deficit may have "severe" consequences. On the economy, he said it's delivered a solid performance in 2005 and is expanding at a reasonably good pace, reports Action Economics.

In company news, Ford (F) is likely to shut five North American plants down, which employ a total of 7,500 workers, according to The Wall Street Journal. On Thursday, the automaker posted a 15% decline in total U.S. veicle sales, and cut its fourth-quarter production plan by 20,000 vehicles.

Software company Novell (NOVL) reported fourth-quarter earnings of 7 cents a share, vs. 6 cents a share last year, on a 6.3% rise in revenue. The company said it sees its first-quarter revenue falling somewhere between $260 and $270 millin.

Energy firm Calpine (CPN) confirmed that it was considering bankruptcy protection.

In Europe, London's FTSE-100, Germany's DAX, and France's CAC-40 indexes finished higher.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei index soared 291.10 points, or 1.92%, to 15,421.60 -- a five-year high for the second consecutive day. The market was boosted gains in the U.S. on strong economic data and a drop in the yen's value to north of 120 versus the dollar. Yen weakness makes products from Japan, whose economy relies heavily on exports, more attractively priced in international markets, notes Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

The Hang Seng index climbed 132.35 points, or 0.88%, to 15,200.38 as benign inflation data out of the U.S. Thursday eased interest rate concerns.

Treasury Market

Treasury yields finished slightly higher, after spending most of the session unchanged. "Payrolls Friday was notable mainly for its lack of impact on the Treasury complex, rather than the characteristic volatility it causes and temblors that typically last well into the ensuing month," says Action Economics. The 10-year note finished at 4.52%.


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