US jobs figures reassure markets about economy

Associated Press Modified: October 5, 2012 at 11:16 am •  Published: October 5, 2012
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LONDON (AP) — Better-than-expected U.S. jobs figures that included a surprise fall in the unemployment rate to its lowest level since January 2009 shored up markets Friday.

The U.S. government reported that the world's largest economy generated 114,000 jobs in September, roughly in line with markets' subdued expectations. However, upward revisions to previous months' figures and a fall in the unemployment rate — from to 7.8 percent from 8.1 percent — reassured investors, who marked stocks higher.

"While the headline number may be viewed as disappointing, there is much else to like in this report," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.7 percent at 5,871 while Germany's DAX rose 1.2 percent to 7,397. The CAC-40 in France was 1.6 percent higher at 3,457.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.5 percent at 13,565 while the broader S&P 500 index rose 0.25 percent to 1,465.

The dollar also lost some ground as investors grew more willing to buy supposedly-riskier assets — the euro was up 0.2 percent at $1.3049, near its highest level since Sept. 19.

The price of oil, however, remained lower despite the upbeat U.S. figures as investors booked gains made this week, when concerns rose of tensions between Turkey and Syria. The benchmark New York rate was $2.41 lower at $89.31 a barrel.

Europe's financial crisis provided relatively few distractions for markets this week, though Spain's reluctance to tap a new bond-buying facility from the European Central Bank is causing investors some concern. The yield on the country's 10-year bonds edged back towards the 6 percent mark on Thursday, but fell Friday in the more risk-on environment. By late afternoon, it was 0.20 percentage points lower at 5.66 percent.

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