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Stocks Climb After Jobs Report

Stocks Climb After Jobs Report

Major U.S. stock indexes finished little changed Friday after a day of mostly quiet trading capped the S&P 500's second straight weekly gain.

The market shook off an early stumble thanks largely to gains in health care stocks, makers of consumer products and retailers. Technology, communications and utilities stocks fell, as did bond yields and gold prices.

Facebook dropped 1.8% after New York's attorney general announced an antitrust investigation into the company.

Traders had a muted reaction to new data showing that U.S. employers added fewer than expected jobs in August. The report also indicated more people entered the workforce last month, wages rose more than expected and the unemployment rate remained near the lowest level in five decades.

The jobs report was the latest in a mixed batch of economic data that investors scrutinized this week in search of clues about how the economy is weathering the costly trade war between the U.S. and China. Their concern: tariffs that each side has imposed on billions of goods may be dampening global economic growth and threatening to nudge the United States into a recession.

Mixed economic data aside, investors have been encouraged this week by news that envoys from Washington and Beijing plan to begin another round of trade talks next month.

"It's been a pretty bullish week and I'm a bit surprised the market has gone as far as it has," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading & derivatives at Charles Schwab. "I don't think the trade tariffs issue is going to get resolved any time soon, and I don't see that we're a whole lot further along right now than where we were a month ago, when the market was significantly lower than it is."

The S&P 500 inched up 2.71 points, or 0.1%, to 2,978.71. The benchmark index gained 1.8% for the week.

"The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 69.31 points, or 0.3%, to 26,797.46. The Nasdaq wobbled for much of the day, ending with a loss of 13.75 points, or 0.2%, to 8,103.07. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks dropped 5.58 points, or 0.4%, to 1,505.17," said Michael Williams, head of wealth management at Smeck Capital Markets.

Markets have been turbulent in recent weeks as worries about the trade war have waxed and waned. Stocks sold off on Tuesday after expanded tariffs between Washington and Beijing kicked in and new data indicated that U.S. manufacturing contracted in August for the first time in three years.