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Dec. 6, 2012 at 2:18 PM
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Stocks move cautiously higher

NEW YORK, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Wall Street stocks made tentative gains Thursday after central banks in Europe left their key lending rates intact.

The Bank of England kept its lending rate at 0.5 percent. The European Central Bank kept its rate at 0.75 percent.

Both decisions were expected, but the ECB's decision came with a more pessimistic forecast for the economy of the eurozone, which the ECB not expects will contract 0.3 percent in 2013.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average added 12.67 points, or 0.10 percent, to 13,047.16.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq index gained 15.59 points, or 0.52 percent, to 2,989.29. The Standard and Poor's 500 added 2.38 points, or 0.17 percent, to 1,411.66.

The 10-year treasury note rose 7/32 to yield 1.567 percent.

The euro fell to $1.2956 from Wednesday's $1.3066. The dollar fell to 82.36 yen from 82.47 yen.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index added 0.81 percent, 76.32 points, to 9,545.16.

Britain's FTSE 100 index gained 0.16 percent, 9.34 points, to 5,901.42.

European monetary policy left alone

FRANKFURT, Germany, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Two central banks in Europe left their monetary policy positions intact Thursday with the European Central Bank lowering its economic forecast.

The Bank of England left its key lending rate at 0.5 percent and left its $600 billion asset purchasing program in place.

The Bank of England explains its decisions with the release of meeting minutes three weeks after the policy board meets.

The ECB said it would maintain a lending rate of 0.75 percent. ECB President Mario Draghi told reporters the eurozone economy is expected to shrink 0.3 percent to 0.9 percent in 2013 and then grow between 0.2 percent and 2.2 percent in 2014.

That is a longer wait for growth than previously expected. In its last forecast, the ECB said 2013 would see economic growth in the eurozone of 0.5 percent.

From quarter to quarter, the gross domestic product in the 17-member eurozone dropped 0.2 percent in the second quarter and 0.1 percent in the third.

"Available statistics ... continue to signal further weakness in activity in the last quarter of the year," Draghi said.

"A gradual recovery should start later in 2013 as our accommodative monetary policy stance and significant improvements in the financial market confidence work their way to private domestic expenditure," he said.

Downside risks are inherent in the ongoing sovereign debt crisis "and governance issues in the euro area," he said.

November sees rise in U.S. job cuts

CHICAGO, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. employers announced 57,081 layoffs in November, the second-highest monthly total of 2012, a private outplacement firm said Thursday.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas said announced job cuts rose 20 percent from October, when 47,724 layoffs were announced.

Job cuts have risen for three consecutive months, with November's total 34 percent higher than cuts announced in November 2011.

Through the first 11 months of the year, U.S. firms have announced 490,806 job cuts, 13 percent below the pace set in 2011, when 564,297 layoffs were announced through November.

The food industry topped the list in November with 19,709 cuts announced, the lion's share coming from the announced liquidation of Hostess Brands, which takes with it 18,500 jobs.

This was followed by the computer sector, which included 3,313 layoffs announced in November.

For jobs in 2013, bet on technology

CHICAGO, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Technology and engineering jobs are likely to dominate work opportunities for 2013, a national employment and consulting firm said Thursday.

"Where the United States will produce the most jobs in 2013 is likely to follow the growth patterns of the last few years," CareerBuilder Chief Executive Officer Matt Ferguson said in a statement.

"It's no surprise that technology and engineering occupations comprise six of the top 10 positions on our list," of the most common jobs since the U.S. recession ended, Ferguson said.

Counting jobs that require bachelor's degrees, CareerBuilder said software developing has produced the most jobs since 2010 with 70,872 new jobs and a growth rate of 7 percent.

The top five includes accountants and auditors with 37,123 jobs, with a 3 percent growth rate since 2010; marketing, 31,335 jobs and 10 percent growth; computer systems analysts, 26,937 jobs, 5 percent growth; human resources, training and labor relations, 22,773 jobs, 5 percent growth.

Six through 10 include, in descending order, network and computer systems administrators; sales representatives; information security analysts, Web developers and computer network architects; mechanical engineers; and industrial engineers.

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