Stocks rise despite disappointing jobs report

KEN SWEET AP Markets Reporter Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks were moving higher in early trading Friday despite a disappointing jobs report that showed the economy created only 74,000 jobs in December.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 31 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,474 as of 9:35 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,841 and the Nasdaq composite rose 12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,169.

WHERE ARE THE JOBS?: The Labor Department said Friday that employers added just 74,000 jobs last month, far below the 200,000 jobs that economists were looking for. The unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent from 7 percent. But the drop occurred mostly because more Americans stopped looking for jobs. The government counts people as unemployed only if they are actively searching for work.

REPORT AN 'OUTLIER': "Almost every other piece of data we have gotten showed that the pace of economic growth was picking up. This report might be an outlier," said Kate Warne, an investment strategist with Edward Jones. "We need to see more evidence before concluding that all the other indicators are wrong."

WILL THE FED KEEP UP ITS SUPPORT?: The yield on the benchmark U.S 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.90 percent from 2.97 percent the day before. Bond investors are betting that the Federal Reserve, which started cutting back its massive bond-buying program this month, may put its cutbacks on hold.

ALCOA SINKS: Alcoa fell the most in the S&P 500 index. The stock dropped 76 cents, or 7 percent, to $9.93. The aluminum mining company posted a $2.34 billion fourth-quarter loss late Thursday due to low aluminum prices. Removing one-time charges, the company earned a profit, but that still fell short of Wall Street expectations