Wall Street stocks close first week of 2010 higher


New York: US stocks posted gains Friday, closing out a strong first week of 2010 despite a disappointing unemployment report that put into question the country’s recovery from recession.

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The US unemployment rate was unchanged at 10 percent in December, but another 85,000 jobs were lost on the month, the Labour Department reported Friday. Economists had expected few or no job losses for the month.

But in a revision of its earlier numbers, the department said the economy actually gained 4,000 jobs in November, marking the first monthly increase since the US recession began in December 2007.

Investors focussed instead on company earnings prospects. United Parcel Service led the gains after saying it expected fourth-quarter profits to top its previous estimates. The package delivery giant also said it would cut 1,800 jobs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 11.33 points, or 0.11 percent, closing the week at 10,618.19. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 3.29 points, or 0.29 percent, to 1,144.98. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index gained 17.12 points, or 0.74 percent, to 2,317.17.

For the week, the Dow gained 1.82 percent, the S&P 500 jumped 2.68 percent, and the Nasdaq rallied 2.12 percent.

The US currency fell Friday to 69.4 euro cents from 69.84 euro cents on Thursday. The dollar dropped against the Japanese currency to 92.66 yen from 93.31 yen the previous day.