By Georgi Kantchev

U.S. stock futures pointed to a slightly higher open Friday after the U.S. jobs report showed wage growth was the strongest since 2009 but job creation slowed in December.

Futures suggested small opening gains on Wall Street, with Dow Jones Industrial Average futures up 0.1%. Futures had been down slightly ahead of the report.

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 declined 0.1%, led by losses on the French and German bourses. Asian markets were mixed, with stocks in Hong Kong gaining, while Japanese shares pulled back.

The dollar rose Friday, after falling to its lowest level since mid-December on Thursday.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by a seasonally adjusted 156,000 in December from the prior month, the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7% last month from 4.6% in November, reflecting more Americans entering the labor force.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 183,000 new jobs and a jobless rate of 4.7%.

Many investors were looking to the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for December to gauge the strength of the postelection rally. The report could provide some clues on how fast the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in 2017. The U.S. has added more than 15 million jobs since the labor market bottomed out in early 2010.

Ahead of the report, Mark Richards, global strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, said he expected a healthy rise in U.S. jobs in December, with the number confirming the trend in other data in recent months.

"We are in a global economywhere most indicators are improving and inflation is picking up from a low base and all this is supportive for risk assets like stocks," Mr. Richards said.

Expectations of a higher-growth, higher-rate environment under President-elect Donald Trump have fueled a broad stock rally and helped push the dollar to its highest level in 14 years, while also sending government bond yields higher since the November election.

That rally, however, seems to have lost some steam in recent days.

"Markets are now looking to Trump to deliver in his first 100 days so there is room for disappointment," Mr. Richards said.

Investors were also watching China's yuan, which surged in recent days after a prolonged selloff. Beijing has been fighting to control the currency's recent descent and on Friday guided the yuan 0.9% stronger against the dollar, its biggest increase since 2005.

Despite the intervention, the yuan slipped in offshore markets, underscoring the difficulty of the task for Chinese authorities, as many investors still expect the yuan to decline in the long run. The currency fell 0.5%, with one dollar buying 6.829 yuan. On Wednesday and Thursday in the offshore market, the yuan surged 2.5% against the dollar.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 0.3% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2%.

Write to Georgi Kantchev at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 06, 2017 08:53 ET (13:53 GMT)

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