Job creation kept the pace in December, with the U.S. economy creating 252,000 jobs to close out the year, while the unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent.

The U.S. was expected to create 240,000 jobs in December, after adding an unexpectedly strong 353,000 jobs the prior month. The unemployment rate was seen falling to 5.7 percent from 5.8 percent a month earlier. An alternative measure that includes the underemployed and those who have stopped searching for employment also fell, moving from 11.4 percent to 11.2 percent, its lowest reading since October 2008.

After initially reacting positively to the report, markets changed direction with stocks opening in negative territory.

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