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US: Dow misses 20,000 points by a hair; tech shares strong

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[NEW YORK] The Dow came within a whisker of 20,000 points on Friday but fell just a bit short on a strong day for technology shares.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average flirted with the historic milestone several times during the day, getting to within 0.37 of a point at one stage before retreating.

The blue-chip index ultimately finished at 19,963.80, up 0.3 per cent.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.4 per cent to 2,276.98, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 0.6 per cent to 5,521.06 - both hitting new records.

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The closely-watched employment report showed the US economy added 156,000 jobs in December, slightly below expectations. However, the Labor Department report also upgraded the job estimate for November and said average hourly earnings rose to US$26.00, up 10 cents from the prior month.

US stocks were mixed in early trading, but gained conviction throughout the session.

Sentiment remains broadly optimistic over the US outlook given improving economic data and the potential for President-elect Donald Trump to enact a pro-growth agenda after he takes office in two weeks.

Technology shares were generally higher, with Apple winning 1.1 per cent, Facebook 2.3 per cent and Google parent Alphabet 1.5 per cent.

Amgen gained 2.8 per cent after a US judge on Thursday blocked sale of the rival cholesterol drug Praluent by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi due to a patent dispute over Amgen's Repatha drug. US shares of Sanofi lost 2.4 per cent.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries plunged 7.5 per cent after it projected 2017 earnings and sales that lagged analyst expectations.