- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2015

Wall Street seized on another strong U.S. jobs report and appeared to shrug off mounting expectations of an imminent interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve, with the Dow Jones index rising 396.96 point, or 2.12 percent, to 17,847.63, for one of its best trading days in three months.

Other U.S. markets were also up strongly after the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday morning that the U.S. economy added a better-than-expected 211,000 new jobs in November, while the overall jobless rate remained at 5 percent — the lowest it has been since President Obama took office in 2009.

In addition, workers saw a gain in hourly pay and government analysts increased their job-creation estimates for September and October. Despite a mini-slump this summer and continuing weak growth in Europe, Japan and many emerging markets, the U.S. economy has added a healthy average of 213,000 jobs a month for the past half-year.

The stock market gains came despite the fact that the strong November number sharply increases the odds that the Fed will move to raise interest rates for the first time in six years when the central bank’s board meets later this month. Fed Chair Janet Yellen earlier this week signaled that she was waiting for the employment report as a last bit of evidence before the meeting, and the November number suggests the economy can withstand a move away from the record lows of recent years.

“A December rate hike now looks to be in the bag,” Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, told The Associated Press.

The U.S. labor force participation rate, which many point to as a troublesome indicator despite the falling official employment numbers, rose slightly to 62.5 percent but remains at a historically low rate.

But traders were also apparently heartened by remarks in New York by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, who pledged to continue with the ECB’s stimulative monetary stance despite a rate cut Wednesday that disappointed many in the market as too timid.

“We are ready at any time to recalibrate our array of tools,” Mr. Draghi insisted in remarks to the Economic Club of New York Friday.

European markets were closed Friday, but the Wall Street’s response suggested that traders had gotten the message. The Friday gains came after losses in three of the four previous trading days.

The broader Standard & Poor’s index of 500 stocks was up 42.06 points, or 2.05 percent, to 2,091.69, while the more tech-heavy Nasdaq market rose 104.74 points, or 2.08 percent to close at 5,142.27.

The Fed’s rate-setting board is scheduled to meet Dec. 15 and 16.

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