U.S. stocks opened modestly higher Friday morning, as investors parsed a jobs report that came in much weaker than expected on a headline basis but appeared to offer some fodder for bullish investors worried about a rapid pace of interest-rate increases by the Federal Reserve. The Labor Department reported that a mere 210,000 new jobs were created in November, well below estimates from economists polled by The Wall Street Journal for a gain of 573,000 new jobs. However, the report did have some strong points. The jobless rate fell to 4.2% from 4.6%, and touched a new pandemic low. Economists say the official rate likely underestimates the true level of unemployment by a few percentage points, however. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.26% was climbing 134 points, or 0.4%, at 34,774, the S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.44% advanced 0.6% to reach 4,602, while the Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +1.74% climbed 0.3% to reach 15,421. The labor figures come as the market is wrestling with the economic impact of the omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The variant has triggered fresh restrictions around the world, and has prompted the Federal Reserve to consider increasing the pace of removing market accommodations to slow inflation. Fed boss Jerome Powell, in congressional testimony earlier this week, said that he feared that the omicron variant might amplify inflation pressures.
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