By Donna Kardos Yesalavich
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks wavered Friday despite data showing the U.S. economy added jobs in October for the first time in five months as private-sector hiring picked up, as the rise appeared too small to signal a turnaround in a stagnant labor market.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) fell 2 points to 11433 in early trading. Kraft Foods (KFT) led the measure's drop, off 1.6%, after the food company posted an 8.5% drop in third-quarter profit as higher taxes, jumps in advertising spending and the costs for integrating Cadbury weighed. In addition, Starbucks (SBUX) Chief Executive Howard Schultz told investors his company will discontinue its arrangement to use Kraft as a distributor for its coffee products.
The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) slipped less than a point to 2575. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (SPX) edged up 0.1% to 1222. .
Nonfarm payrolls rose by a greater-than-expected 151,000 last month as private-sector employers added 159,000 jobs, the Labor Department said Friday. Economists had expected a rise of only 60,000. The September number was revised to show payrolls fell by 41,000, less than an original estimate of a 95,000 decline.
However, the unemployment rate, which is obtained from a separate household survey, remained at a lofty 9.6% in October. About 14.8 million people who would like to work can't get a job. The jobless rate has been above 9.0% since May 2009, right before the recession ended. Economists had expected the rate to remain at 9.6% for October.
Friday's activity comes after the Dow index surged 2% on Thursday to end at 11434.84, its highest close since early September 2008.
Overnight, Asian stocks extended the global markets rally, with Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rising 2.9%. The Bank of Japan kept interest rates on hold, as expected, and announced details of assets, including exchange-traded funds, it plans to buy under its latest program.
The dollar rose, with the U.S. Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of six others, up 0.7%. Treasurys were lower, pushing the yield on the 10-year note (UST10Y) up to 2.51%. Crude-oil futures climbed above $86 a barrel while gold futures slipped.
Among stocks in focus, shares of American International Group slipped 2.3%. The company swung to a $2.4 billion third-quarter loss as it booked $4.5 billion of restructuring charges.
Starbucks (SBUX) rose 3%. The coffee-shop chain said fiscal fourth-quarter net operating income doubled to $399.3 million and sales rose 17% to $2.8 billion.
Coventry Health Care (CVH) climbed 4.6%. The company's third-quarter earnings more than doubled absent prior-year losses at discontinued operations as the managed-care company's claims costs fell.