HIRING IMPROVES: The unemployment rate fell in December to 8.5 percent, the lowest in nearly three years. Employers added 200,000 net jobs. Employers have added more than 100,000 jobs for six months, the longest such streak since April 2006.
BUT ELSEWHERE: Stocks traded mixed because of discouraging news from Europe. Economic sentiment and retail sales are falling there, and unemployment is high. Italy's borrowing costs spiked back up to dangerous levels, signaling fear the nation might default.
FEARS WIN OUT: Stocks' failure to rise on the jobs news was a reminder of how closely U.S. markets are tied to threats overseas. A likely recession in Europe could hurt U.S. corporate profits and entangle banks that do business with Europe, threatening the fragile economic recovery.