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Stocks close week slightly higher

U.S. stocks closed higher Friday after gains from a better-than-expected November jobs report shook off a drop in December consumer sentiment.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 81.09 points, or 0.6 percent, to 13,155.13, led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp.

The S&P 500 index advanced 4.13 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 1,418.07.

Losses for Apple Inc., however, weighed on the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index, which closed down 11.23 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,978.04. Apple shares finished down 2.6 percent for the day and 8.9 percent for the week.

Before the stock market opened, the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls rose by 146,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent. The data topped forecasts as economists had projected an increase of 80,000 jobs and an unchanged unemployment rate.

That initially boosted stocks into positive territory across the board, but gains were pared following the release of the University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters preliminary consumer-sentiment index for December that showed a decline to 74.5 from 82.7 in November.

Investors also monitored developments in Washington. House Speaker John Boehner said Friday there has been no progress in negotiations with the White House to avoid the fiscal cliff, or hundreds of billions of dollars of automatic tax increases and spending cuts due to take effect in the new year.

On the other side of the aisle, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on Republicans to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all but the top 2 percent of earners. Neither, however, appeared to have a pronounced effect on stocks.

Investors likely expected no progress at this point, otherwise markets would be down much more on the apparent stalemate, said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.


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