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Stocks Futures Rise After December Jobs Data

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were heating up Friday after the official December nonfarm payrolls report showed a greater number of jobs added than expected.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 9 points, or 5.64 points above fair value, at 13,328. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 2.25 points, or 1.98 points above fair value, at 1455. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 7.75 points, or 6.49 points above fair value, at 2733.

Major U.S. stock averages dipped Thursday following a downtrodden tone from the latest minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, the policy-making wing of the Federal Reserve . The surprise news outweighed stronger-than-expected employment data for December and a number of upbeat monthly retail-sales reports.

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.

The jobless rate held at 7.8%, after the prior month's figure was upwardly revised from 7.7%. It was expected to come in at 7.7%.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.3%, the same as the prior month's upwardly revised data. They were expected to have risen 0.2%.

The average workweek inched up to 34.5 hours from 34.4 hours. Hours worked were expected to stay at 34.4 hours.

The widely watched U.S. government jobs report offered a more encouraging tone than previously expected after Thursday's better-than-expected ADP employment change report for December as well as improvements in the ISM manufacturing employment index and in online help-wanted advertising. Economists noted that the impact of Hurricane Sandy on jobs was dissipating.

But overall jobs growth is expected to stay on the softer side due to the tepid conclusion of the holiday shopping season and "fiscal-cliff" related weakness in December business and consumer sentiment.

At 10 a.m. EST, the Commerce Department is predicted to report that factory orders rose 0.4% in November after being up 0.8% in September.

Simultaneously, the ISM services report is expected to register 54.2% in December, below 54.7% in November.

Looking into the first quarter, Steve Billimack, Chicago advisory group managing partner and director at Hightower, said that he expects volatility, as "intense political debate around the sequester and the debt limit are watched and evaluated for any real structural reform by the private sector, rating agencies and the markets."

"It was great to see a relief rally January 2nd after avoiding the worst case fiscal cliff scenarios. The rally also benefited from the late 2012 trend of broad-based global central bank stimulus," Billimack said. "While the Biden/McConnell compromise showed modest cooperation to extend tax cuts, the debate re-intensifies with the new Congress having to address the more difficult issues of both spending cuts and the debt limit."