Dow Climbs, But Apple Dents Nasdaq


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The Dow climbed on Friday, helped by stronger-than-expected data on the U.S. labor market. But falling Apple shares attributed to losses in the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

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Today's Markets

As of 3:20 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 50.1 points, or 0.38%, to 13124, the S&P 500 gained 0.92 point, or 0.07%, to 1415 and the Nasdaq Composite slumped 16.8 points, or 0.56%, to 2972.

It has been a choppy weak for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares. They took the worst fall in four years Wednesday, just to climb on Thursday. Today, the world's biggest publicly traded company was greater than 2% to the downside again, weighing on the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

Data Paint Muddled Picture

The Labor Department said nonfarm payrolls rose by 146,000 in November from October, significantly more than the 93,000 expected. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7% from 7.9% the month prior to its lowest level since December 2008. Economists were expecting the unemployment rate to remain at 7.9%. The Labor Department said Hurricane Sandy "did not substantively impact the national employment and unemployment estimates for November." Many economists expected the superstorm to have a negative impact.

"The good news is not that the labor market is improving rapidly – it isn't – but that employment growth is holding up despite all the fears over the fiscal cliff," Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight wrote in a research note.

Digging into the report, the private sector added 147,000 jobs, while the government shed 1,000. Average hourly earnings climbed four cents to $23.63.

Still, many economists don't expect the recently upbeat data to impact the Federal Reserve's highly-aggressive monetary policy stance.

"While the data ... suggest that the labour market continues to recover, and bodes well for economic growth in the final quarter of the year, the gains are unlikely to persuade the Fed from changing its stimulus stance," Markit Chief Economist Chris Williamson wrote in an e-mail.

Consumer sentiment fell much more than expected in early December from November. The Reuters/University of Michigan gauge slid to 74.5 from 82.7, far lower than the 82.4 that was expected. These data are especially important given the key holiday shopping season is kicking into high gear.

Later, the Federal Reserve releases its reading on consumer credit conditions.

In Europe, Germany's Bundesbank said it expects Germany's economy to grow at a pace of just 0.4% next year, down sharply from a June forecast of 1.6%. The country is Europe's economic powerhouse, but has been showing increasing vulnerability to the eurozone debt crisis. The news comes only a day after the European Central Bank cut its economic forecast for the entire currency bloc.

Commodities markets were fairly stable. The benchmark crude contract dipped 33 cents, or 0.38%, to $85.93 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rose 0.02% to $2.597 a gallon. In metals, gold gained $3.70, or 0.22%, to $1,706 a troy ounce.

On the corporate front, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and its chief executive Reed Hastings received "Wells Notices" from the Securities and Exchange Commission on fair disclosure questions, a filing released late Thursday revealed.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 dipped 0.08% to 2601, the English FTSE 100 climbed 0.22% to 5914 and the German DAX slumped 0.22% to 7518.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 fell  0.19% to 9527 and the Chinese Hang Seng edged lower by 0.26% to 22191.