By Riva Gold and Corrie Driebusch

U.S. stocks rose Friday after employment data signaled solid momentum in the labor market.

If stocks can hold gains, it would snap an eight-session losing streak for the S&P 500, the longest stretch of declines since the financial crisis.

On Friday, the S&P 500 gained 0.4% in afternoon trade. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 46 points, or 0.3%, to 17976, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.4%.

Big gains by biotechnology shares helped boost stocks. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index rose 2% in recent trading, though even with those gains it is on track to finish the week 3.3% lower.

Even as stocks ticked higher Friday, a tight U.S. presidential election continued to drive investor positioning, some analysts said.

The election has unnerved many investors, causing them to either sit on the sidelines or move to products they perceive as less risky, such as gold or shorter-duration bonds, as polls have tightened between the two candidates.

"There's a flight to safety," said Mohit Bajaj, director of ETF trading solutions at broker WallachBeth Capital LLC.

The price of gold has risen roughly 2.5% from a week ago. On Friday, gold added 0.1% to $1,304 an ounce. Demand for haven debt sent the yield on the two-year Treasury note down to 0.81% recently from 0.86% last Friday.

Oil has come under pressure as well. U.S.-traded crude fell 1.7% to $43.90 a barrel on Friday, adding to a five-day losing streak.

As money has moved into these havens and as the price of oil fell, investors have also stepped back from stocks.

That changed Friday after the Labor Department said nonfarm payrolls rose by a seasonally adjusted 161,000 in October from the prior month, slightly below expectations. Wage growth accelerated to its strongest pace since the recession.

The unemployment rate, derived from a separate survey of American households, ticked down to 4.9% last month from 5% in September.

U.S. government bond yields rose briefly before falling back. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was recently 1.798%, compared with 1.805% right before the jobs data.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against 16 others, was down less than 0.1%.

Many investors expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in December for the first time in a year.

"Jobs growth has been pretty solid in the U.S. economy," said Niladri Mukherjee, managing director at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

"Wethink the Fed should be in a place to raise interest rates by 25 basis points at its December meeting -- predicated on the fact that we don't get a shock between now and then," he said.

The losses have been more pronounced in Europe. On Friday, the Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.9%, putting its weekly decline at 3.6%, compared with the 1.4% weekly decline the S&P 500 is on track to post.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 1.3% Friday as the market reopened from a holiday to a stronger yen.

The British pound continued to gain against the dollar after its best day since August, rising 0.2% to $1.2494. The Bank of England played down the chances of a further cut in interest rates on Thursday, while a U.K. court separately ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May can't start the process of separating the U.K. from the European Union without approval from Parliament.

Write to Riva Gold at riva.gold@wsj.com and Corrie Driebusch at corrie.driebusch@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 04, 2016 13:48 ET (17:48 GMT)

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