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US stocks flat after strong January jobs report


[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks opened little changed Friday after the January US employment report showed strong job and wage gains.

Five minutes into trtde, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 17,881.70, down 3.18 points (0.02 per cent).

The broad-based S&P 500 added 1.31 (0.06 per cent) at 2,063.83, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index was virtually unchanged, down 0.17 point at 4,764.92.

The Labor Department said the US economy added 257,000 jobs in January, better than the 235,000 projected by analysts.

The report also included large upward revisions to jobs growth in November and December and said hourly wage growth gained 0.5 per cent, a big improvement after a December drop.

Wage growth has been a key priority of the US Federal Reserve, which has signaled it wants to raise interest rates in 2015.

The key for the Fed will be sustainability, said analyst Patrick O'Hare.

"Another employment report like this one for February and the stock market will most likely have to start getting its mind around a rate hike actually happening in mid-2015 after all."