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US: Soft jobs report boosts Wall Street shares

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[NEW YORK] US stocks closed higher on Friday after the US August jobs report came in short of forecasts, lowering the likelihood that the Federal Reserve would hike interest rates later this month.

Markets took the lower-than-expected 151,000 jobs created - compared to the 190,000 average of the previous three months - as not strong enough to push the Fed into action at its September 20-21 meeting, but still enough to support a move later this year.

"The employment data today suggests there's no rate hike in September as job creation is weaker than expected," said Peter Cardillo of First Standard Financial.

But the relatively small move in the market more reflects the fact that Friday was the beginning of a long holiday weekend in the United States, Cardillo added.

"I suspect next week is when we can really see some reaction post-labor report," he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 0.4 per cent at 18,491.96.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.4 per cent to 2,179.98, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite added 0.4 pe rcent at 5,249.90.

A rebound in crude oil prices on the back of Russian President Vladimir Putin's support for Opec to agree to a production freeze helped oil sector shares generally, with major producers Exxon Mobil and Chevron both 0.7 per cent higher.

Mylan, under attack for alleged profiteering on its near-monopoly epinephrine injector EpiPen, lost 4.7 per cent after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she would be tough on companies that jack up prices of prescription drugs.

Valeant, the Canadian drugmaker also accused of vastly abusing its market pricing power, fell 1.3 per cent.

Shares of Lululemon Athletica, the women's sportswear chain, sank 10.5 per cent after it delivered a weaker than expected earnings outlook for the rest of this year.

Boeing topped the gainers among the Dow blue chips, adding 1.0 per cent, while Nike was the biggest loser, off 0.9 per cent.

AFP