In our news wrap Friday, American employers added a net of 211,000 jobs in November, keeping unemployment steady at its lowest rate in seven and a half years. Also, OPEC announced it will keep pumping record volumes of oil into world markets, despite pressure from poorer member countries.
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In the day’s other news, the government’s latest jobs report shows the U.S. economy turned in another solid performance in November. According to Labor Department numbers, employers added a net of 211,000 jobs that month. In addition, the unemployment rate remained steady at 5 percent, the lowest it’s been in 7.5 years.
The jobs news sent Wall Street roaring to its best day since September and made up for yesterday’s losses. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 370 points to close near 17850. The Nasdaq rose more than 100 points, and the S&P 500 added more than 40. For the week, all three indexes were up a fraction of a percent.
The oil cartel OPEC announced today that it will keep pumping record amounts of oil, despite sharply lower prices. Saudi Arabia has pushed to maintain output in a bid to drive U.S. oil shale producers out of the market. The price of oil has dropped by more than half in the last year-and-a-half.
On the Syria conflict, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested today it might be acceptable for President Bashar al-Assad to stay in power in the short-term. In Greece, Kerry said Assad still needs to go eventually, if there’s to be peace and an end to the refugee crisis.
JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:
It’s a human catastrophe on a gigantic scale, and it’s one of the reasons why so many people feel so strongly that Assad couldn’t find legitimacy in the future to govern, when three-quarters of his country has already voted with their feet and has had to go somewhere else to avoid barrel bombing, to avoid gassing, to avoid starvation.
Kerry suggested that the Western-backed rebels might even cooperate with Syria’s military against Islamic State militants, provided Assad’s future is made clear.
Germany will join the international coalition fighting Islamic State forces in Syria. The German Parliament overwhelmingly approved a plan today to provide reconnaissance planes, a naval frigate and up to 1,200 troops. They will support airstrikes, but will not take part in actual combat.
And in Southern Afghanistan, government troops freed 60 prisoners from the Taliban overnight, supported by U.S. intelligence and surveillance. The operation took place in Helmand Province. Most of those freed were Afghan police and army officers.
And back in this country, President Obama is signed a five-year transportation bill worth $305 billion. It won final approval last night in the Senate, the first such long-term highway funding to pass Congress in six years. The bulk of the money, more than $200 billion, goes toward maintaining aging roads and building new ones, especially in major freight corridors. The bill also funds mass transit systems, plus Amtrak and other rail programs. Lawmakers opted not to raise the federal gas tax.