Stocks managed to eke out small gains today even though Wall Street was disappointed by the nation's anemic job growth last month.
The October unemployment rate dropped to an even 5 percent from 5.1 percent the previous month, the Labor Department reported.
But the nation created only 56,000 new jobs, reflecting the economic damage done by hurricanes Rita and Katrina. The storms wiped out some jobs and pushed up energy costs, prompting employers to hold down their hiring to offset higher fuel bills.
Job growth for the month was less than half what economists were expecting, but the report didn't really jolt the market. Other economic reports this week -- including strong October chain store sales -- showed a more encouraging picture of the economy.
Still, the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index spent most of Friday underwater until late in the day when they followed the Nasdaq Stock Market composite index higher.
The Nasdaq index closed 9 points higher at 2,169.43, a gain of almost half a percentage point. The Dow and S&P advanced less than a tenth of a percentage point, with the Dow gaining 8 points to 10,530.76 and the S&P advancing a fraction of a point to 1,220.43.
For the week, the Dow gained 128 points, the Nasdaq composite advanced 80 points and the S&P picked up 22 points.