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Stocks Improve After Jobs, Services-Sector Reports


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The major U.S. stock averages ticked higher Friday after upbeat December jobs and services-sector growth reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 44 points, or 0.3%, at 13,435. The blue-chip index posted its biggest weekly point gain since December 2011. The index finished up 1.9% for the week.

Breadth was positive, with winners outnumbering losers 23 to seven. The top percentage blue-chip gainers included Walt Disney (DIS) , JPMorgan(JPM) , Alcoa(AA) and Bank of America (BAC) .

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) shares spiked 1.2% after being upgraded to "buy" from "neutral" at Deutsche Bank, which spoke of upside potential attributable to new drugs and product diversification.

Falling were Microsoft(MSFT) , Intel(INTC) Merck (MRK) and McDonald's(MCD) .

The S&P 500 added 7 points, or 0.5%, to 1,466 to post its highest close since 2007. The index finished up 2.5% for the week. The Nasdaq ended up 1 point to 3,102 as Apple(AAPL) shares slid 2.8% after The New York Times reported that congressional investigators are coming close to concluding an inquiry into the accounting practices of the tech giant and other technology companies that allocate revenue and intellectual property offshore to lower the taxes they pay in the U.S. The tech-heavy index added 2.7% for the week.

In the broad market, only the technology sector slipped, down 0.6%. The biggest percentage sector gainers were transportation, energy and financials.

Volumes rose to 3.41 billion shares on the Big Board and 1.74 billion shares on the Nasdaq. Advancers were outpacing decliners by a ratio of 3.3-to-1 on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.8-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

"In their own right the jobs data were, perhaps, a touch more positive than expected, especially with up revisions but also less strong than some believed could be possible given the ADP print of yesterday," Harvey Goldsmith, chief economist at Cantor Fitzgerald, said in a note. "The data, after a week of drama and surprise, were relatively undramatic showing a job market far from robust, but strong and stable enough to keep unemployment moving lower if the recovery remains on track which is the goal of Fed monetary policy."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that nonfarm payrolls rose by 155,000 in December, down from an upwardly revised 161,000 in November. Economists, on average, were expecting nonfarm payrolls to increase by 150,000 in December.

Private nonfarm payrolls increased by 168,000 in December, down from an upwardly revised 171,000. An increase of 148,000 was estimated for December.

The jobless rate stayed at 7.8% after the prior month's figure was upwardly revised from 7.7% as the civilian labor force participation rate held steady at 63.6%. The unemployment rate was expected to come in at 7.7%.