US stocks closed mixed after seesaw trading Friday, as investors differed on whether the Federal Reserve would keep the current tapering pace of its stimulus following last December's nonfarm payroll report.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 7.71 points, or 0.05 percent, to 16,437.05. The S&P 500 gained 4.24 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1,842.37. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 18.47 points, or 0.44 percent, to 4,174.67.
For the week, the market also finished mixed, with the Dow falling 0.2 percent, the S&P 500 adding 0.6 percent and the Nasdaq rising 1.0 percent.
The market opened modestly higher, as investors considered the far worse than expected jobs report as good news, believing it may prompt the Fed to slow its pace of tapering bond buying program.
The U.S. economy added only 74,000 jobs in December, the fewest in three years, but the unemployment rate fell from 7 in November to 6.7 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday.
Despite the further decrease in the jobless rate, the jobs growth was much weaker than economists' expectations for about 200, 000 new jobs.
Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, said in a research note Friday the sluggish job growth was a "shocker" after a survey by private payrolls processor ADP reported Wednesday a strong 238,000 rise for December.
Employment was difficult to gauge in December because companies mail pay stubs to laid-off employees in the month for taxation reasons and cut employees early in the year to get out from under employee mandates in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, Low cited the ADP report as saying.
However, the major indices soon dipped into negative territory and held the losses in most of the subsequent trading session, before rising in the final hour of the session, as investors were somewhat confused by different opinions from analysts.
"Again we think the economy is doing ok," said Bruce Kasman, chief economist and managing director of Global Research at J.P. Morgan, commenting on the disappointing jobs report, in a conference call Friday.
He also cited some of upside risks to the U.S. economy.
Among other data, U.S. wholesale inventories advanced 0.5 percent in November, the Commerce Department said Friday.
In corporate news, Alcoa shares slumped 5.43 percent to 10.11 U. S. dollars after the aluminum giant posted the fourth-quarter earnings report late Thursday that fell short of market expectations on earnings per share.