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Quite the struggle today between bulls and bears.  Ultimately, the bulls won out with the S&P 500 finishing 0.5% higher on the day and 1.5% higher for the week.  Daily Futures has the action from all markets:

U.S. Economy – Jobless Rate Improved
The U.S. Labor Department said that the unemployment rate improved from 10.2% to 10.0%, much better than expected. Non-farm payrolls were down 11,000, a much smaller decline than expected. The March 2011 eurodollars fell .195 to 98.275 as today’s report weakened the argument to keep the federal funds rate near zero.

In addition to November’s good news, job losses for October were revised from -190,000 to -111,000. For September, job losses were revised from -219,000 to -139,000. The March U.S. dollar index jumped up 1.295 to 76.29, the highest close in a month.

The U.S. Commerce Department said that factory orders were up .6% in October, better than expected.

Overall, commodity markets were steady to lower after today’s news. Better employment numbers are good for future demand, but the higher dollar is somewhat bearish for commodities.

Grains and Cotton
The USDA said that China bought 232,000 tons of U.S. soybeans. January soybeans were down 4 cents at $10.43.

Australia exported 70,360 tons of beef in November, down 17% from a year ago and the worst November since 1997, due to the expensive Australian dollar. February cattle ended up .30 at 83.20.

After the close, the USDA estimated this week’s beef production at 494.5 million pounds, up 1.9% from a year ago. Pork production was estimated at 461.3 million pounds, down 4.3% from a year ago. February hogs closed up 1.45 at 66.75, helped by better wholesale pork prices.

Today’s decline in the unemployment rate should be good news for the home industry, but will mortgage rates stay low? January lumber finished down $4.00 at $224.50.

Leaders of opposing factions in the Ivory Coast agreed to hold a national election by March of 2010, but it is not yet clear who will be eligible to vote. March cocoa was down $12 at $3,376.

Orange juice
Central Florida has been dry lately, but is receiving heavy rain today with more chances tomorrow and next week. January orange juice ended down .0015 at $1.2335.

February gold dropped $48.80 to $1,169.50 as today’s positive jobs report weakened the case for keeping interest rates near zero. March silver fell 60.8 cents to $18.52.

January crude oil closed down .99 at $75.47, pressured by the effects of today’s higher dollar in spite of the positive economic news.

Statistics Canada said that the unemployment rate improved from 8.6% to 8.5% in November, better than expected. Employment increased by 79,000 in November, also much better than expected. The March Canadian dollar closed down .51 at 94.40.

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