NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ The stock market followed one of its most exciting days of the year with a rather dull one Friday. Indexes barely rose following a weak jobs report, which increased hopes that the Federal Reserve would act next week to support the economy.
The gains, while meager, kept major market indexes at their highest levels in more than four years following a massive surge the day before.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14.64 points to close at 13,306.64. The Standard & Poor's 500 was up 5.80 points to 1,437.92. The Nasdaq composite barely moved, up 0.61 points at 3,136.42.The government reported that 96,000 jobs were created in the U.S. last month, fewer than economists had forecast. The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent, but only because more people gave up looking for work. Tech bellwether Intel dealt a blow to the market early in the day by cutting its revenue outlook because of weak demand for its semiconductors. Intel fell 90 cents, or nearly 4 percent, to $24.19. The flat trading for the major indexes Friday followed big gains Thursday. U.S. stocks hit four-year highs after the European Central Bank announced plans to buy an unlimited amount of short-term government bonds from struggling countries in the region such as Italy and Spain. The hope is that the borrowing costs of those countries will fall, making a breakup of the 17-nation euro zone less likely. Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities, said the weak U.S. jobs report means the Federal Reserve is more likely to announce steps at its meeting next week to keep interest rates low and encourage lending. He thinks the Fed will announce that it will hold benchmark rates near zero through 2015 and, possibly, launch a third round of bond purchases.