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US: Stocks surge 2% on strong jobs report


[NEW YORK] Wall Street equities jumped two per cent on a strong US jobs report Friday that underscored the differences between the sturdy US economy and sluggish growth elsewhere.

With markets around the world in the red - including 2.2 per cent plunges in Japan and Brazil and a 0.6 per cent drop in London - Wall Street headed in the opposite direction even though the official November employment report raised the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will decide to begin increasing interest rates at its December 15-16 meeting.

Analysts said the report, which showed a solid 211,000 new jobs were created last month and the unemployment rate holding at 5.0 per cent, was just the proof Fed Chair Janet Yellen needed to make the first rate increase in over nine years.

"The 'data dependent' Fed will be reassured that the economy is showing no sign of succumbing to worries about the global outlook," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.

"Here we see again the incredible resilience and optimism in this (US) market," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities.

"Any pullback for the most part has been a buying opportunity for most of the year, and today's action demonstrates that again today."

US banks and technology companies were big gainers, but many oil-sector stocks lost sharply again as crude prices sank on Opec's lack of action to reel in production.

At the end of a reportedly contentious Vienna meeting, Opec dropped all talk of production targets or ceilings and indicated it would wait to see what happens to the market over the next six months, during which Iran is expected to resume exporting large amounts of oil when economic sanctions are dropped as a part of its nuclear deal.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude tumbled 2.7 per cent to US$39.97 a barrel, while in London Brent crude lost 1.9 per cent at US$43.00 a barrel.

Elsewhere equities mostly slumped. European stocks came off their lows after the US jobs report, but failed to make up Thursday's losses which came after the European Central Bank disappointed with what investors saw as overly timid action to stimulate growth.

Speaking in New York Friday after European markets closed, ECB President Mario Draghi sought to push back the view that the bank was not making headway in fighting deflation.

He insisted that stimulus efforts were working and that, if necessary, the ECB would do more: "There is no particular limit to how we can deploy any of our tools," he said.

"There cannot be any limit to how far we are willing to deploy our instruments, within our mandate, and to achieve our mandate."

Those comments helped send the euro lower after its ECB-sparked 3.1 per cent jump against the dollar Thursday. The common currency fell to US$1.0875 from US$1.0947 late Thursday.