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U.S. stocks finish higher despite disappointing employment data

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NEW YORK, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) — Wall Street’s major averages ended higher on Friday despite data that showed the U.S. economy lost jobs last month.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 56.84 points, or 0.18 percent, to 31,097.97. The S&P 500 was up 20.89 points, or 0.55 percent, to 3,824.68. The Nasdaq Composite Index increased 134.50 points, or 1.03 percent, to 13,201.98.

Seven of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors finished in green, with consumer discretionary up 1.8 percent, outpacing the rest. Materials slipped 0.51 percent, the worst-performing group.

U.S.-listed Chinese companies traded higher with all the top 10 stocks by weight in the S&P U.S. Listed China 50 index ending the day on an upbeat note.

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U.S. employers slashed 140,000 jobs in December, the first monthly decline since April 2020, as the recent COVID-19 spikes disrupted labor market recovery, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The unemployment rate, which has been trending down over the past seven months, remained unchanged at 6.7 percent, according to the monthly employment report.

The figures suggested that “the COVID surge beginning last fall has finally forced enough economic restrictions to stall the recovery for at least a month,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FHN Financial, in a note on Friday.

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“The return of strict social distancing in California, New York and other COVID hotspots had severe consequences for restaurant workers and others in the leisure and hospitality sector. The employment recovery has stalled as a result,” he said.

The United States has registered more than 21.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases with related deaths exceeding 367,000 as of Friday afternoon, showed a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

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