Stocks Wavered in Early Trade after Jobs Report

U.S. stocks wavered between modest gains and losses in the early trade on Friday as investors digested a mixed picture from the December jobs report. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 36.52 points, or 0.18%, to 19,862.77. The S&P 500 was down 2.45 points, or 0.11%, to 2,266.55. The Nasdaq Composite rose 7.06 points, or 0.13%, to 5,495.00.

US companies added 156,000 nonfarm payrolls in December, which was a bit lighter than the 175,000 expected. On the plus side, November’s payrolls number was revised up by 19,000 to 204,000. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7% from 4.6% in November.

The U.S. trade deficit widened for a second straight month in November as imports rose to their highest level in more than a year on higher oil prices, suggesting that trade was a significant drag on economic growth in the fourth quarter. The Commerce Department said on Friday the trade gap increased 6.8 percent to $45.2 billion.

Oil prices edged higher by mid-morning on Friday as signs of output cuts by OPEC members met with lingering concern that other producers could try to shirk their share of planned decreases aimed at curbing global oversupply. Brent crude futures were trading at $57.34 per barrel at 1033 GMT, up 45 cents from the previous close. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $54.19 a barrel, 43 cents above their last settlement.

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