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U.S. stocks open steady in cautious trade; Dow Jones down 0.09%

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Shutterstock photo - U.S. stocks opened steady on Monday, as investors remained cautious after Friday's disappointing U.S. nonfarm payrolls data fuelled fresh uncertainty over the strength of the U.S. job market's recovery.

During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.09%, the S&P 500 index edged down 0.10%, while the Nasdaq Composite index inched up 0.01%.

Friday's nonfarm payrolls report showed that the U.S. economy added 74,000 jobs in December, the smallest increase since January 2011 and well below expectations for 196,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate fell to a five year low of 6.7% from 7% in November, but this was due in part to people dropping out of the labor force.

The surprisingly weak data tempered expectations that the Fed would cut its stimulus program again this month. The Fed cited a stronger labor market in its decision to cut its asset purchase program by USD10 billion in December, reducing it to USD75 billion-a-month.

Financial stocks were in focus, after the Federal Reserve was said to be investigating whether traders at the world's biggest banks rigged benchmark currency rates. Shares in Citigroup were down 0.31% and Goldman Sachs slipped 0.29%, while Bank of America edged up 0.11

Meanwhile, Target dropped 0.89% after the discount retailer on Friday hiked its estimate of customers affected by as recent mass data breach to up to 110 million and said sales had been "meaningfully weaker than expected."

On the upside, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals saw shares skyrocket 29.32% after Sanofi agreed to pay USD700 million for access to drugs developed by the Massachusetts-based group and a 12% stake in the biotechnology company.

Adding to gains, Beam soared 24.41% as Japan's Suntory Holdings said it would acquire the maker of Jim Bean and Maker's Mark bourbons in a deal with a total value of USD14 billion.

Among auto companies, General Motors edged up 0.05% after saying it is closer to issuing a dividend for the first time since suspending the payout in July 2008.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were mostly higher. The EURO STOXX 50 edged 014% higher, France's CAC 40 rose 0.19%, Germany's DAX added 0.21%, while Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.18%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged up 0.19%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index remained closed for a national holiday. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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