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NEW YORK: US stocks headed in various directions at the start of trading Monday as investors hoped to rebuild positions following weeks of rocky trading.

January had brought instability and losses for major indices, but trading was generally positive Friday after US government employment data showed hiring in the first month of 2022 was much better than expected.

The days to come will bring a new reading on consumer prices, which are expected to have climbed even higher in January.

That will likely reinforce perceptions the US Federal Reserve will follow through on its signals that it is preparing to hike interest rates from zero in March, its first increase since Covid-19 broke out.

US stocks mostly higher despite weak hiring data

About 10 minutes into trading, the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.1 percent lower at 35,046.32, while the broad-based S&P 500 was up 0.2 percent at 4,508.73.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index had gained 0.7 percent to 14,199.26.

Spirit Airlines was 16.1 percent higher and Frontier Airlines 3.3 percent higher after the two companies announced a $6.6 billion deal to merge, creating the nation's fifth-largest airline.

Ford was down 0.3 percent after US media reported the automaker would cut its North American vehicle production due to a shortage of semiconductors.

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