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US: Stocks little changed on mixed jobs report

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[NEW YORK] The Nasdaq edged up while the Dow dipped early Friday after the December US employment report showed somewhat slower job growth but an uptick in wages.

The US economy added a solid 156,000 jobs in December, slightly below analyst 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 US cents from the prior month.

"The key takeaway from the report is that job growth is slowing while wages are rising, which are offshoots of a labour market running near full employment," analyst Patrick O'Hare said.

About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 19,853.45, down 0.2 per cent.

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The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.1 per cent to 2,266.33, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.1 per cent to 5,494.52.

Gap shot up 3.1 per cent as it bucked a trend of disappointing holiday sales by retailers and said comparable sales rose two per cent in the key November and December period.

JC Penney lost 2.5 per cent as it logged a 0.8 per cent decline in comparable store sales over the holidays, with women's apparel an especially weak area.

Amgen gained 4.2 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 3.1 per cent.