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Stocks inch up despite tepid jobs report

Stocks inch up despite tepid jobs report
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Stock markets on Friday inched up despite a tepid showing in the labor market, which gained just 245,000 jobs in November, a significant slowdown in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 87 points, or 0.3 percent, while the S&P 500 gained 12 points, or 0.3 percent.

The Labor Department’s monthly accounting of the employment situation showed a disappointing gain, though the unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent from 6.9 percent.

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The labor market has recovered just over half of the 21 million jobs that disappeared since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March, and the decline in job growth bodes poorly for the economic recovery.

But traders may be set to look past disappointing economic data in hopes that the economy will quickly bounce back once a vaccine is widely distributed. Emergency use authorizations for two vaccines are expected in the coming weeks, with large-scale distribution possible by mid-2021.

Recent conciliatory moves by congressional Democrats toward striking a compromise COVID-19 relief deal may also lead to an infusion of additional stimulus and protections into the economy this month, which economists say would prevent a serious expected blow to the economy as COVID-19 cases rage and existing economic benefits expire.