Positive jobs report fails to lift stocks

Stocks are closing mixed despite a surge in hiring last month that pulled the unemployment rate to its lowest level in nearly three years.

The government said Friday that the unemployment rate fell in December to 8.5 percent, while U.S. employers added 200,000 jobs.

Yet stocks were mixed all day as traders fretted about Europe’s ongoing debt drama. Italy’s borrowing costs have spiked to dangerous levels, and Europe can’t afford to bail it out. Economic data there is worsening.

The Dow closed down 56 points, or 0.5 percent, at 12,360. The S&P 500 closed down 3, or 0.3 percent, at 1,278. The Nasdaq closed up 4, or 0.2 percent, at 2,674.

Falling stocks slightly outnumbered rising ones on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was light at 3.5 billion shares.