Stocks advanced while credit markets remained strained Friday ahead of an expected House vote on the government's $700 billion financial rescue plan and after Wells Fargo Co. agreed to buy Wachovia Corp. in a $15.1 billion deal. The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 140 points.
Investors also appear relieved that the government's September employment report wasn't worse, although the Labor Department said payrolls shrank by 159,000, more than the 100,000 economists predicted. The unemployment rate remained flat at 6.1 percent, as expected.
Investors are eager for unemployment to remain in check because widespread job losses could damp consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the United States' economic activity.
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