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) -- Stocks finished higher Friday, erasing earlier losses from an unexpectedly weak jobs report, as a lower dollar pushed commodity stocks higher.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

rose 20 points, or 0.2%, to 11,382. The

S&P 500

edged higher by 3 points, or 0.2%, to 1225, while the

Nasdaq Composite

gained 12 points, or 0.5%, to 2591.


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Bank of America

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topped the Dow while


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Exxon Mobil

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were its biggest laggards.

Stocks have now risen for three straight sessions, lending a strong start to December. The Dow rose 2.6% over the week while the S&P 500 added 3%.

The somewhat muted reaction of the markets to the adverse jobs report was surprising given the broad market's strength in the previous two sessions as the Dow posted consecutive triple-digit gains.

The Labor Department said early Friday that the

U.S. economy added 39,000 jobs in November after adding 172,000 in October. The increase was much weaker than market projections for job growth of 130,000, according to The unemployment rate climbed to 9.8% -- the highest level since April -- disappointing expectations that it would hold at 9.6%.

A recent wave of positive economic news and better-than-expected ISM services and factory orders report may have helped investors shrug off the jobs report along with the weaker dollar, which has had a greater influence on stocks in recent months.

Speculation that the Fed might step up its quantitative easing program also aided sentiment. The stubbornly high unemployment rate was one of the main factors cited by the

Federal Reserve

in its decision to begin purchasing $600 billion of long-term Treasury securities through the second quarter of 2011. The Fed has said it will regularly review the pace of its asset-purchase program against economic conditions to ensure that achieves the central bank's desired goals.

"It's as if everything is upside-down. Bad news is good because that means the Fed will keep on spending. All Bernanke is trying to do with QE2 is reflate the assets so that the market starts to feel better and people start to go out and buy more stuff, increasing demand and spurring employment," said Ron Courser, founder and president of Ron Courser & Associates.

Courser said that while extra liquidity means that the market will grow in the short-term, the real question is where all the cash is going and whether it will work to meaningfully bolster the economy."A lot of it is going overseas or into commodities," he said.

The greenback traded lower against a basket of currencies with the dollar index down by 1.4% . That drove commodities higher with the January crude oil contract rising by $1.19, or 1.4%, to settle at $89.19 a barrel.

The February

gold contract gained $16.90, or 1.2%, to settle at $1,406.20 an ounce and gold stocks traded broadly higher.

Newmont Mining

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was up 3.1% to $62.36 while

AngloGold Ashanti

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Barrick Gold



Vista Gold

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were other notable gainers.

On Friday, the euro continued to gain ground against the dollar, rising to $1.3369 from $1.3224 as the European Central Bank's decision to

continue offering liquidity to banks eased concerns about sovereign debt. The FTSE in London lost 0.08% and the DAX in Frankfurt slipped 0.01%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.5% while Japan's Nikkei gained 0.1%.

The House approved a measure that would extend the current tax rates on those making up to $250,000 but allow higher taxes on higher incomes on Thursday. The vote was seen as largely symbolic since it isn't expected to pass in the Senate on Saturday.

Members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform

failed to get enough votes to put through a series of cuts and tax changes that would reduce the deficit by $3.9 trillion over the next nine years on Friday.


Institute for Supply Management said its services index, a measure of nonmanufacturing activity, rose to 55 in November from October's reading of 54.3. The level outpaced the reading of 54.5 that economists had been anticipating, according to

The Department of Commerce said factory orders slipped 0.9% in October after rising 2.1% in the previous month. Wall Street had projected a decline of 1.3%.

Shares of

Apollo Group


surged 2.9% to $36.38 on what was likely short-covering trades based on speculation that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan could soon meet with members to discuss recently proposed regulations on the for-profit education sector.


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saw its stock drop 4% to $39.58 on news that it agreed to sell its Toledo, Ohio-based refinery to Toledo Refining Co., a wholly-owned subsidiary of PBF Holding, for $400 million. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2011.

Shares of

Big Lots

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shed 5.1% to $29.50 after the retailer missed third-quarter profit expectations by a penny and cut its full-year outlook for earnings from continuing operations to a range of $2.75 to $2.81 a share.

Chevron is selling an 18% stake in an Indonesian deepwater gas field to


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for $680 million. Shares of Chevron ticked higher by 0.5% to $84.89 while Sinopec's stock dropped 1.8% at $94.46.

Walter Energy


agreed to buy Canada's

Western Coal

for 3.3 billion Canadian dollars ($3.29 billion). Walter Energy's stock jumped 4.6% to $110.52.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note weakened 3/32, lifting the yield to 3.007%.


--Written by Melinda Peer and Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York


Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.