Stocks Mixed Following Jobs Report

U.S. blue-chips eased Friday after data showing moderate job creation in January suggested the Federal Reserve will not cut interest rates yet, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq edged higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 20.19 points, or 0.16 percent, to 12,653.49, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 2.45 points, or 0.17 percent, to 1,448.39. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 7.50 points, or 0.30 percent, to 2,475.88.

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Friday's more muted activity followed a broad rally this week, driven by fairly robust earnings and the Fed's signal that rates are likely to hold steady now as inflation moderates further.

Positive broker comments about Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS) helped drive tech stocks higher.

A 1 percent drop in Boeing's (BA) shares weighed heavily on the Dow average, a day after the airline manufacturer's stock hit a lifetime high. Boeing had led the Dow higher for two days following strong results.

"We're still seeing the scenario of an economy that seems to be improving, where inflation is not as much of a concern," said Barry Hyman, equity market strategist at EKN Financial Services Inc. in New York.

Earlier, a government report showed the U.S. economy created 111,000 jobs last month, below forecasts for a gain of 149,000 jobs and below December's upwardly revised increase of 206,000. Both the December and November figures were revised up.

The S&P 500 recorded its biggest weekly gain since August, while the Dow put in its best weekly performance since late November, after hitting an intraday record of 12,683.93 right after the opening bell. On Thursday, the Dow ended at a record 12,673.68.

"I don't think all things considered that it's a terrible market anyway. Obviously, one might have expected it to go higher ...," said Jay Finkel, senior equity trader at Lord Abbett in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"It also has been up recently so to take a pause ... isn't terribly unusual and doesn't surprise me," he said.

Boeing's stock fell 1.1 percent, or $1.00, to $90.05 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) was the biggest positive influence on both the Nasdaq 100 and the S&P 500 after a brokerage started its coverage of the big network equipment maker's stock with a "buy." Cisco's stock ended Nasdaq trading at $27.14, up 2.1 percent, or 55 cents.

Electronic Arts shares finished up 1.2 percent, or 59 cents, at $51.13 on the Nasdaq after several brokerages raised their ratings on the stock of the world's biggest video game publisher. Late Thursday, the company reported a quarterly profit that exceeded estimates.

Some of the smaller indexes rallied after the jobs numbers, with the Dow Jones Transportation Average , one of the most sensitive to the economy's overall health, climbing to an all-time high. The Russell 2000 index of small companies' stocks also hit a fresh record at 810.35.

The worst performer in the Nasdaq 100 and the S&P 500 was Microsoft Corp (MSFT) , down 1.2 percent, or 37 cents, at $30.19 in Nasdaq trading. Meanwhile Internet retailer was down 3.4 percent, or $1.31, at $37.39 after posting a quarterly profit that beat estimates on Thursday. But signs of cost pressures disappointed investors.

Trading was moderate on the New York Stock Exchange, where about 1.43 billion shares changed hands, below last year's estimated daily average of 1.84 billion. On the Nasdaq, about 1.92 billion shares were traded, below last year's daily average of 2.02 billion.

Advancers beat decliners by a ratio of about 4 to 3 on the NYSE and by about 6 to 5 on the Nasdaq.

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