LONDON (AP) — World stock markets were mixed Friday after official figures showed hiring in the U.S., the world's largest economy, rose last month despite the severe winter weather.
The Labor Department said 175,000 jobs were added in January, better than expected, but not enough to keep the unemployment rate from edging up to 6.7 percent from 6.6 percent the previous month. Analysts said that the rise in job creation will convince the Federal Reserve to keep reining in its monetary stimulus program. The stimulus has helped boost stock markets over the past three years.
"If the economy managed to generate 175,000 new jobs in a month when the weather was so severe, once the weather returns to seasonal norms payrolls employment growth is likely to accelerate further," said Paul Dales, senior economist at Capital Economics.
In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 closed down 1.1 percent at 6,712.67. Germany's DAX slumped 2 percent to 9,350.75 and the CAC 40 in Paris shed 1.2 percent to 4,366.42, likely weighed by the continued rise of the euro, which will hurt exports.
The euro hit a 2 ½-year high on Friday, boosted by the European Central Bank's decision to not cut interest rates this week. By late afternoon in Europe, it was up 0.1 percent at $1.3869 adding to sharp gains the day before
On Wall Street, the Dow was up 0.2 percent at 16,449.03 while the S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent to 1,875.67. Earlier, in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average gained 0.9 percent to 15,274.07 while South Korea's Kospi inched down 0.1 percent to 1,974.68. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3 percent to 5,462.20.
Investors had been encouraged by a pause in the escalation of tensions in the Ukraine and by a meeting of China's top legislative body which pledged to advance Communist Party plans for promoting market forces and domestic consumption in Asia's economic engine.
Trading was muted in Asia, however, as traders were cautious ahead of the U.S. jobs report, which had not been released yet. China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.1 percent to 2,154.35 and Taiwan's benchmark closed flat at 8,713.96. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent to 22,660.49.
India's Sensex reached a new high on Friday, up 1.5 percent to 21,829.26 as investors cheered the announcement of elections beginning next month. Benchmark crude for April delivery was up 94 cents to $102.50 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 11 cents to $101.56 on Thursday.
In currencies, the dollar rose 0.3 percent to 103.38.