NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted a small gain in the final minutes to closing bell, though it was enough to cement the index's third consecutive record close and weekly gain of more than 1%. U.S. stocks were mixed for much of Friday's trading session, with the Nasdaq negative and the S&P 500 and Dow flitting between minor gains and losses as investors digested the October jobs report.
The U.S. Government said 214,000 jobs were added to the economy in October, less than an expected 231,000, while the unemployment rate inched lower to 5.8% from 5.9% a month earlier. The labor participation rate edged slightly higher to 62.8% from 62.7%.
Stocks rallied to record closing highs on Thursday on hopes the October jobs report would be a repeat performance of the prior month when data showed a revised 256,000 jobs added and the unemployment rate dropping to a six-year low of 5.9%.
U.S. Bank Wealth Management's senior fixed income strategist Dan Heckman said the markets had taken the slight disappointment in stride. "Equity investors are taking some profits," he said in a phone call. "There are aspects of the report that were good. There were aspects that were not troubling, but not as rosy as one would hope."
Though the headline number missed estimates, the case for an improving job market remains intact. October marks the ninth consecutive month where the U.S. economy has added at least 200,000 workers. An average 229,000 jobs have been added every month this year, the fastest rate in 15 years.
The Dow closed 0.11% higher, the S&P 500 nudged up 0.03%, and the Nasdaq was down 0.13%.
The flipside of weaker-than-expected numbers is that it could give the Federal Reserve pause in deciding when to hike rates. "A rosy jobs picture will have all of the talking heads placing rate hikes in March of 2015, and a disappointing number will have those very same guys pushing a rate hike out toward 2016," predicted economist Stephen Guilfoyle in a note earlier this morning.
However, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gave signs of an interest rate hike sooner than later while addressing a conference in Paris earlier Friday. "I continue to anticipate that the headwinds associated with the financial crisis will wane. As employment, economic activity, and inflation rates return to normal, monetary policy will eventually need to normalize too," she said.
Monster Beverage (MNST shares were the best performers on the S&P, adding 7.7% after reporting a 32% jump in quarterly profits. First Solar (FSLR was dragging on the index, tumbling nearly 11% as profits sank 55% and revenue tanked 30% in its third quarter.
Salix Pharmaceuticals (SLXP was one of the worst performers on the Nasdaq. The biopharmaceutical company tanked 34% after reporting an accounting error which revealed drug sales weaker than expected. Quarterly net income missed by 2 cents a share.
Satellite and networks company ViaSat (VSAT jumped 8% after quarterly net income of 68 cents a share beat estimates by 53 cents.
AK Steel (AKS climbed 7.3% after CEO James Wainscott disclosed a nearly $1 million purchase of shares.
Sears (SHLD shares spiked 31.7% on news the retailer could sell as many as 300 of its stores to a real estate investment trust.
--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.