Dow nears 20,000 as report of higher wages boosts stocks
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Dow Jones industrial average is trading closer than ever to the 20,000 mark Friday as U.S. stock indexes close in on all-time highs following a shaky start. The federal government's December jobs report showed that wages jumped by the largest amount in seven years, though hiring was a bit weaker than expected. Technology and industrial companies are making the biggest gains.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 88 points, or 0.4 percent, to 19,987 as of 12:50 p.m. Eastern time. It traded above 19,999 earlier. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 12 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,280. The Nasdaq composite jumped 42 points, or 0.8 percent, to 5,530. All three indexes are on pace for record closes. The small-cap Russell 2000 index added 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,373.
US JOBS: The Labor Department said U.S. employers added 156,000 jobs in December, slightly less than analysts expected. That follows a private payrolls report Thursday that also didn't quite meet expectations. However the government said hourly pay jumped 2.9 percent from December 2015, the biggest increase in seven years. Overall, job growth remained steady in 2016 but slowed a bit from 2015.
LEADING: Big names in technology moved higher after an initial stumble. Facebook rose $2.81, or 2.3 percent, to $123.48 while Apple gained $1.39, or 1.2 percent, to $118. Industrial companies, which have climbed since the presidential election two months ago, also fared well. General Electric rose 20 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $31.72 and Honeywell rose $1.76, or 1.5 percent, to $118.52. Johnson Controls climbed $1.04, or 2.5 percent, to $42.98.
BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.41 percent from 2.35 percent. Higher bond yields mean higher interest rates, which allow banks to make more money on lending. Banks did better than the rest of the market Friday afternoon. JPMorgan Chase added 39 cents to $86.50. Among other financial firms, Goldman Sachs jumped $4, or 1.7 percent, to $245.32.
Companies that pay large dividends, including phone companies, utilities and household goods makers, lagged the market. Those stocks are often compared to bonds because of the steady income they provide. AT&T gave up 69 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $41.47 and Wal-Mart fell 92 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $68.29.
DAY IN COURT: Amgen climbed and Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals fell after a court moved to block sales of Sanofi and Regeneron's cholesterol drug Praluent. A federal jury ruled in March that Praluent infringes on two patents that belong to Amgen. Both are costly biotech drugs designed to be injected once or twice a month. Sanofi and Regeneron said they will appeal the ruling, which came from U.S. District Court in Delaware.
Amgen stock gained $5.20, or 3.4 percent, to $158.18 while Regeneron slid $21.62, or 5.7 percent, to $39.30 and Sanofi lost $1.07, or 2. percent, to $40.43.
ICU FALLING: Medical device maker ICU Medical sank as the company said a business it is buying continues to weaken. It agreed to buy an infusion systems business from Pfizer in October. ICU will pay less money, but it said the division's sales are still falling, so it expects less profit from the deal. Its stock lost $14.50, or 9.8 percent, to $132.85.
INTO THE GAP: Gap climbed after reporting that its sales improved over the holidays. The company said sales at older Gap and Old Navy stores both improved in December and said its annual profit should be a bit higher than it expected. The stock rose 31 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $23.56.
Gap and other retailers slumped Thursday after Macy's and Kohl's posted weak November and December sales and cut their forecasts.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 116.97 yen from 115.62 yen after a dip on Thursday. The euro slipped to $1.0542 from $1.0590. The stronger dollar sent precious metals prices a bit lower.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 25 cents to $54.01 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oil sold internationally, added 18 cents to $57.07 a barrel in London.
OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX edged up 0.1 percent and the FTSE 100 in Britain inched up 0.2 percent. It's risen nine days in a row and is at all-time highs. The CAC-40 of France was 0.1 percent lower. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.3 percent while the Kospi in South Korea added 0.4 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng advanced 0.2 percent.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay
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