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December 9, 2012

Apple holds back S&P, Nasdaq

NEW YORK — Apple spoiled the stock market’s party on Friday.

Stocks shot higher in the early morning, after the government reported that the U.S. added jobs in November. But Apple, which has been flailing in recent weeks as investors wonder how long its momentum can continue, dragged down the indexes that it’s part of.

The Dow Jones industrial average, which doesn’t include Apple, rose. The Standard & Poor’s 500 and Nasdaq, which do, were less impressive. The S&P rose by a smaller amount, and the Nasdaq fell.

The headline numbers from the jobs report sent the market higher in early trading. The Labor Department said the U.S. added 146,000 jobs last month, more than economists had expected. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent, the lowest in nearly four years.

The overall report, however, painted a more restrained view of the economy.

“If you delve into that report a little more, there are some disturbing issues,” said Brian Lund, who is based in Los Angeles as executive vice president and co-founder of the online brokerage Ditto Trade.

Among them: The unemployment rate fell largely because discouraged unemployed workers stopped looking for work, which meant they were no longer counted among the unemployed. Also, the Labor Department revised previously released jobs numbers downward, saying that employers added 49,000 fewer jobs in October and September than initially estimated.

Lund also wasn’t so sure about the government’s statement that Hurricane Sandy “did not substantively impact” the unemployment numbers. He expected Sandy’s detrimental effects to show up in jobs reports over the next couple of months, as businesses figure out their post-storm plans.

“If you have Sandy, you don’t automatically lose your job,” Lund said. “Businesses take time to say, ‘Oh, what’s going on, can we go forward, do we need to cut people to survive? It’s not until later that they start laying off.”

Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist for ConvergEx in New York, was similarly unimpressed by the jobs numbers.

 

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