* U.S. employers added 155,000 jobs in Dec
* U.S. service sector growth hits 10-month high in Dec-ISM
* Apple shares fall more than 2 pct after report on Samsung
* Dow up 0.03 pct, S&P up 0.2 pct, Nasdaq down 0.1 pct
By Gabriel Debenedetti
NEW YORK, Jan 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks firmed on Friday
after a jobs report showed the pace of hiring met expectations
by easing slightly in December, but gave indications of momentum
in the labor market recovery.
The market also reacted modestly to data from the Institute
for Supply Management, which showed the U.S. service sector grew
at its fastest pace in 10 months in December, boosted by a rise
in new orders.
"The jobs number today was somewhat benign, it was pretty
close to what estimates were, so there wasn't much to draw out
volatility from that report," said Gordon Charlop, managing
director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York.
"I get the sense we're just sort of going to digest the
events of earlier this week," he said, referring to the "fiscal
cliff" deal in Washington that averted a possible recession.
The S&P saw its largest gain in over a year to start 2013 on
Wednesday, following the agreement struck late Tuesday.
The Labor Department said payrolls outside the farming
sector grew 155,000 last month, slightly below November's level.
Gains in employment were distributed broadly throughout the
economy, from manufacturing and construction to healthcare.
Shares of Apple Inc dropped 2.9 percent to $526.20,
continuing its downward path of recent months and pressuring the
Adding to concerns about the iPhone maker's ability to
produce more innovative products going forward, rival Samsung
Electronics Co Ltd is expected to widen its lead
over Apple in global smartphone sales this year with 35 percent
growth, propped up by a broad product lineup, according to
market researcher Strategy Analytics.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 3.99 points,
or 0.03 percent, at 13,395.35. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
gained 2.38 points, or 0.16 percent, at 1,461.75. The
Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 3.47 points, or 0.11
percent, at 3,097.10.
New orders received by U.S. factories were flat in November,
missing expectations as demand for aircraft sank sharply,
although a gauge of business spending plans gave a positive sign
for the economy.
The lackluster economic growth indicated by the jobs data
did not make a dent in the still-high U.S. unemployment rate,
but it calmed fears about the possibility of the U.S. Federal
Reserve ending its highly stimulative monetary policy.
Concerns about the endurance of the Fed's stimulus program
prompted investors to pull back from the market Thursday after a
Minutes from the Fed's December policy meeting, released
Thursday, showed Fed officials were increasingly worried about
the risks of asset purchases to financial markets, though they
looked set to continue with the open-ended stimulus program for
Some policymakers thought asset buying should be slowed or
stopped before the end of 2013 while others highlighted the need
for further stimulus. The Fed's policy of easy credit has helped
push the S&P 500 to a 13.4 percent gain in 2012. Ending that
policy would remove an incentive for investors to purchase
riskier assets like stocks.
The S&P Energy sector index rose again, up 0.7
percent, led by a 3.5 percent gain in shares of Chesapeake
Eli Lilly and Co stock rose 3.9 percent to $51.68
after the pharmaceuticals maker said it expects its 2013
earnings to increase to $3.75 to $3.90 per share excluding items
from $3.30 to $3.40 per share in 2012.
Shares of Mosaic Co gained 2.6 percent to $58.25 on
the fertilizer producer's announcement that its quarterly
operating profit fell 30 percent as international distributors
delayed buying potash and phosphate to avert the price risk
associated with the company's negotiations with China and India.