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* U.S. job growth slows more than expected in December
* Apple up on positive brokerage comments
* Easing Iran tensions, trade hope spur risk-on mode
* Indexes: Dow down 0.15%, S&P up 0.06%, Nasdaq up 0.08% (Updates to early afternoon)
Jan 10 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks hovered near all-time highs on Friday, as easing Middle East tensions and gains in popular technology stocks offset concerns about slower-than-expected December jobs growth in the United States.
Wall Street’s main indexes brushed off government data that showed domestic jobs increased by 145,000 last month, below the forecast for a 164,000 rise, as the pace of hiring remained more than enough to keep the longest economic expansion in history on track.
Friday’s report also showed the jobless rate held near a 50-year low of 3.5% and average hourly earnings rose 0.1% in the previous month.
“There didn’t seem to be much that warranted a negative or a positive reaction. Overall, it was a touch lighter than what people were expecting,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird in Milwaukee.
“Today’s reaction in stocks is more about what happened this week so far than about any specific development today.”
At 1:26 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 43.95 points, or 0.15%, at 28,912.95, the S&P 500 was up 1.96 points, or 0.06%, at 3,276.66. The Nasdaq Composite was up 7.46 points, or 0.08%, at 9,210.88.
The indexes are on track for weekly gains, with technology stocks set to rise the most among the S&P subsectors in a week that saw markets rally after U.S.-Iran tensions eased and on hopes of a U.S.-China trade deal.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business the trade deal is on track to be signed on Jan. 15.
Apple Inc rose 0.3% after Credit Suisse raised its price target on the stock, citing a better-than-feared iPhone 11 cycle so far.
Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc rose 0.8% and 0.5%, respectively.
“Some of the large-cap tech stocks are equity market’s flight to safety at this point,” Baird’s Delwiche said.
Boeing Co fell 1.3% after the company released hundreds of internal messages that contained harshly critical comments on 737 MAX development.
With the fourth-quarter earnings season set to begin in earnest next week, analysts expect profits for S&P 500 companies to drop 0.6% in their second consecutive quarterly decline, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.14-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.05-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 59 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 91 new highs and 21 new lows. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Shounak Dasgupta)
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