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US markets end at record highs on upbeat jobs data

The US markets traded with traction and ended near record high levels on Friday, as traders reacted positively to the closely watched monthly jobs report. The continued advance by stocks came following the release of a report from the Labor Department showing stronger than expected job growth in the month of November. The non-farm payroll employment jumped 228,000 jobs in November after surging up by a revised 244,000 in October. The street had expected employment to climb by 200,000 jobs compared to the addition of 261,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month. The Labor Department also said the unemployment rate came in at 4.1 percent in November, unchanged from October and in line with the street expectation. Meanwhile, average hourly employee earnings were up by 2.5 percent year-over-year in November, reflecting acceleration from 2.4 percent in October but below estimates for 2.7 percent growth.

Positive sentiment was also generated by news that both the House and the Senate passed a stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. The legislation extends government funding until December 22nd, giving lawmakers time to negotiate a longer-term spending bill. On the other hand, the University of Michigan released a report showing an unexpected deterioration in consumer sentiment in the month of December. The report said the preliminary reading on the consumer sentiment index for December fell to 96.8 from the final November reading of 98.5. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 99.0.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 117.68 points or 0.49 percent to 24,329.16, the Nasdaq gained 27.24 points or 0.40 percent to 6,840.08 and the S&P 500 was up by 14.52 points or 0.55 percent to 2,651.50. 

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