Before the market open, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said nonfarm payrolls added 146,000 jobs in November, up from a downwardly revised 138,000 in October. Economists had predicted that 93,000 jobs would be added in November.
Nonfarm private payrolls increased by 147,000, down from an upwardly revised 189,000. Expectations were for an increase of 95,000.
The unemployment rate fell to 7.7% from 7.9%; economists forecast the rate to remain at 7.9%.
Average hourly earnings rose 0.2%, while the average workweek stayed at 34.4 hours, both as expected."The perception in the market place is we need 150,000 or 100,000 jobs a month to keep the unemployment rate steady. We probably only need 50,000 to 75,000," Strauss said. "Why? Because the working population is only expanding at about 0.5%. The baby boom population is now beginning to retire, and is aging out of the workforce." The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index on Friday showed a big drop for December, with a reading of 74.5, the weakest number since August and down from 82.7 the prior month. Economists, on average, were expecting a decline to 82.4. Economists expect data Friday to show that consumer credit increased by $10 billion in October, down from an expansion of $11.4 billion in September. The report is due at 3 p.m. EST. Stocks rose Thursday as shares of technology behemoth Apple rebounded and investors watched the U.S. "fiscal cliff" debates with a bit more optimism. "Apple is a fast-growing technology company that dominates the consumer products it participates in, but it is priced as a slow-growing industrial company," said Troy Logan, managing director and senior economist at Warren Financial Service. "We see this in the price-to-earnings ratio. Apple is a cash-generating machine that -- even as their stock becomes more volatile -- by the end of 2016 will generate shareholders about half of its current stock price in cash. Apple is currently trading at about $550 per share. In the next four years it will generate approximately $250 per share in cash."