NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks were trading only slightly lower on Friday as Wall Street overlooked a mixed October jobs report to digest the big picture of a tightening labor market. Major indices inched into the red though the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 remained on track for a third consecutive weekly gain.
The U.S. reported 214,000 jobs were added to the economy in October, less than an expected 231,000, while the unemployment rate dropped to 5.8% from 5.9% a month earlier. The labor participation rate edged slightly higher to 62.8% from 62.7%.
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Hopes were high for a repeat performance of September's jobs report, when data showed a revised 256,000 jobs were added and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.9%, its lowest level in six years.
The overall case for an improving jobs market is strong. The U.S. economy has added at least 200,000 workers for nine consecutive months with an average 229,000 jobs added monthly so far this year, the fastest rate in 15 years. On Thursday, the number of claims for unemployment benefits in the U.S. declined 10,000 to 278,000, the lowest level in roughly 14 years, for the week ended Nov. 1. Analysts had expected claims of 283,000.
The Dow slipped 0.15% and the S&P 500 fell 0.08%. The Nasdaq declined 0.44%.
U.S. Bank's senior fixed income strategist Dan Heckman said the markets are taking the news in stride. "Equity investors are taking some profits," he said. "There are aspects of the report that were good. There were aspects that were not troubling, but not as rosy as one would hope."