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U.S. DOLLAR EXTENDS ITS ADVANCE

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The dollar extended its recent advance Friday against other major currencies after a report on December employment showed more strength than had been expected even as the unemployment rate rose.

Gold prices slipped in domestic trading after rising overseas. Republic National Bank in New York quoted a bid for gold as of 4 p.m. EST of $356.25 per troy ounce, down 75 cents from Thursday's after-hours bid.Dealers said the dollar got a lift from an unexpected rise in non-farm payrolls in December even though the unemployment rate rose to 7.1 percent from a revised 6.9 percent in November.

The government said non-farm payrolls rose 31,000 in December to a seasonally adjusted 108.8 million after falling 265,000 in November. Economists had anticipated a drop on the order of 74,000 for December.

Frank Pusateri, vice president of corporate foreign exchange at Bank of Boston, said the unexpected payroll growth enabled the market to "solidify the move it made yesterday" when the dollar staged an even bigger advance.

The dollar dipped at midafternoon when Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was quoted as saying the Fed stands ready to take steps to stimulate the economy, if necessasary.

That kind of talk could suggest the Fed is ready to lower interest rates some more, a development that could hurt the dollar.