Stocks Mixed on Jobs News, Merkel Talk

U.S. stocks failed to defend earlier gains and slid into negative territory late Friday but all three major indexes closed the week out with robust gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.61 point to close at 12,019.42 for a weekly gain of 7%. The S&P 500 edged down 0.31 point to end at 1,244.28. It rose 7.4% during the week. Only the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.73 point to close at 2,626.93, bringing the weekly increase to 7.6%.

The U.S. economy created 120,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 8.6%, its lowest level in more than two and a half years, the Labor Department said Friday.

The euro zone debt crisis cannot be solved overnight, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday, urging instead a long-term approach that relies on tougher fiscal rules being enshrined in European treaties. A week before European leaders meet in Brussels for what is being seen as a make-or-break summit for the 13- year-old single currency bloc, Merkel once again rejected the idea of joint euro zone bonds and cautioned against steps that might hurt the credibility of the European Central Bank.

Crude-oil futures gained on Friday. Crude for January delivery added 76 cents, or 0.8%, to end at $100.96 a barrel. Prices seesawed earlier in the session, trading as low as $99.76 a barrel. Natural gas prices, meanwhile, bucked the trend to end 1.8% lower.

Gold futures gained modestly Friday, on hopes that talk of more fiscal union in Europe would pave the way for more central-bank stimulus measures and as they regained some of their safety allure ahead of a euro zone summit. Gold for February delivery, the most active contract, rose $11.50 an ounce, or 0.7%, to $1,751.30 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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