(By Balachander) U.S. stocks ended on a mixed note amid continued uncertainty about the looming "fiscal cliff" and a decline in consumer confidence offset a better-than-expected key jobs data.
The S&P 500 Index rose 0.29 percent to end at 1,418.07. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.62 percent to finish at 13,155.13. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.38 percent to close at 2,978.04.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' non-farm payrolls data showed addition of 146,000 jobs in November, up from a downwardly revised 138,000 jobs created in the previous month and also higher than economists expectations of 93,000 jobs. Jobless rate edged down to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary consumer sentiment index for December fell to 74.5 from 82.7 in November, versus expectations of a reading of 82.
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Meanwhile, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said there has been no progress in budget talks this week to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.
President Barack Obama has pushed for higher taxes on wealthy Americans to address the fiscal cliff of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that could hit economic growth.
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In corporate news, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) retreated 2.56 percent. Shares of the technology giant have tumbled nearly 10 percent this week.
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American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) confirmed that it is in talks to sell a 90 percent interest in International Lease Finance Corp. (ILFC) to a Chinese-led consortium. Shares rose 2.62 percent.
Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) closed 0.22 percent lower. The online video streaming company and its chief executive Reed Hastings received "Wells Notice" from the U.S. securities regulators over a social-network post in July.
McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. (NYSE: MHP) gained 4.16 percent after the information services provider declared a special dividend of $2.50 per share.
Amarin Corporation Plc (NASDAQ: AMRN) tumbled 18.91 percent after the Irish biopharmaceutical-company announced a $100 million non-equity financing and said it is hiring a sales force in the United States to commercialize cholesterol-lowering drug Vascepa.
Geo Group Inc. (NYSE: GEO) jumped 8.70 percent after the provider of government-outsourced services declared a special dividend of $5.68 a share.
Esterline Technologies Corp. (NYSE: ESL) added 3.68 percent after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat market forecasts helped by strong growth across its business and lower cost of sales.
Comtech Telecomm Corp. (NASDAQ: CMTL) fell 6.47 percent after the company reduced its forecast for the full year following weak third-quarter results.
European markets ended mixed, with Germany's DAX down 0.22 percent to close at 7,517.80. France's CAC40 added 0.11 percent to finish at 3,605.61. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.22 percent to end at 5,914.40.
Asian markets closed mixed, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index jumping 1.60 percent to finish at 2,061.79. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.19 percent to finish at 9,527.39. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dipped 0.26 percent to end at 22,191.17. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,424.10, down 0.32 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures fell 0.22 percent to $86.07 per barrel, and natural gas futures dropped 3.22 percent to $3.55 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures rose 0.21 percent to $1,705.4 per ounce and silver futures added 0.14 percent to $33.16 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro dropped 0.30 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2931. The British pound shed 0.08 percent against the greenback to 1.6038, while the dollar inched up 0.04 percent against the Japanese yen to 82.4300.