NEW YORK - Wall Street paused from its big rally yesterday, with stocks closing narrowly mixed after the government's November labor report showed tepid job growth as well as a pickup in inflation. The major indexes ended the week higher, with the Dow Jones industrials having gained nearly 900 points over nine trading days.
The Labor Department reported that 94,000 jobs were added to payrolls in November and that the unemployment rate held steady at 4.7 percent. Thomson/IFR analysts had set a median projection of 100,000 new jobs. The report also showed that average hourly earnings increased 0.5 percent in November, compared with forecasts for a more modest 0.3 percent.
The report at least temporarily chilled a rally that has left the Dow 538 points, or 3.8 percent, below the record close it reached Oct. 9.
"I'd call it an employment letdown," said Jack A. Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank. "A little air came out of the party balloon."
And Paul Nolte, director of investments at Hinsdale Associates, said: "Stocks are taking a breather from a maniacal runup over the last few days." He described the stock market as paralyzed ahead of the Federal Reserve's meeting on interest rates Tuesday, and said many investors don't want to make bold moves until the Fed's decision is announced.
The Dow industrial average rose 5.69, or 0.04 percent, to 13,625.58, and finished the week up 1.9 percent.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.68, or 0.18 percent, to 1,504.66, but ended the week up 1.59 percent.
The technology-dominated Nasdaq composite index dipped 2.87, or 0.11 percent, to 2,706.16, but ended the week 1.70 percent higher.
The week's trading saw investors growing in confidence about the overall health of the economy and the nation's ability to generally weather the months-long credit crisis. Stocks' big advance during the last two weeks came amid signs that the Fed was indeed concerned about slowing economic growth, and as financial institutions and the government took steps to mitigate the damage from billions of dollars in soured mortgages and credit losses.
Bond prices fell yesterday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 4.11 percent from 4.02 percent late Thursday. The dollar slumped, while gold prices also fell.
Light, sweet crude oil fell $1.95 to settle at $88.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The Dow Jones Transportation Average rose 86.82, or 1.81 percent, to 4,876.35.
Corporate news was mixed, indicating that business deals are still being made despite the lack of demand in many corners of the credit markets, but that some industries could see dampened profits in 2008 because of the slowing economy.