Stock futures rise on burst of hiring in December

Stock futures lurched higher Friday after a government report showed a burst of hiring in the U.S. last month.

Employers added a net 200,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent, the lowest since February 2009. The rate has dropped for four straight months.

It was the latest of several positive signs about the labor market. The economy has generated 100,000 or more jobs each month for the past six, the longest such streak since April 2006. The number of people applying for unemployment benefits last week fell, pushing the four-week average of new claims down to its lowest level since June 2008.

Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 34 points, or 0.3 percent, to 12,365 as of a half-hour before the market opening. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures rose 5, or 0.4 percent, to 1,277. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 6, or 0.3 percent, to 2,346.

All three indicators were slightly higher before the jobs report came out.

European markets bounced on the U.S. jobs report before falling back in line with earlier gains. Benchmark indexes in London, France and Germany all rose a percent.

Stocks rose in Europe despite the latest worrying signs about the debt crisis there. Italy’s borrowing costs are soaring; it is now paying 7.08 percent to borrow for 10 years, signaling investors’ fears that the nation might default. Ireland and Portugal were forced to take bailouts when their borrowing rates rose above 7 percent.

Earlier, Asian markets ended mostly lower as they reacted to the previous day’s European market jitters.


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