A strong jobs report could provide reassurance on economy

A strong jobs report could provide reassurance on economy

A strong employment report could offer some relief to global markets, which have reeled in recent months from a flood of concerns including slowing economic growth.

"We really don't see any slowdown yet", said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor.

US employers probably capped a strong year of hiring with a gain just short of the average pace in 2018.

US businesses added 312,000 jobs in December, well above what economists expected.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast private payrolls advancing 178,000 last month.

"Incorporating revisions for October and November, which increased payrolls by 58,000, monthly job gains averaged 254,000 over the past 3 months", said William Wiatrowski, acting commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of unemployed increased by 276,000 to 6.3 million.

Average hourly pay improved 3.2 percent from a year ago, up from average wage growth of 2.7 percent at the end of 2017. That lifted the annual increase in wages to 3.2 percent, matching October's rise, which was the largest in 9-1/2 years.

Economists have forecast that the Labor Department will report that employers added a solid 180,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate stayed at a five-decade low of 3.7 per cent, according to the financial data firm FactSet. The labor force participation rate, or the proportion of working-age Americans who have a job or are looking for one, rose to 63.1 percent last month from 62.9 percent in November. "An upside surprise could increase market expectations for rate hikes in 2019, while a downside surprise could lead markets to price a higher probability that exceptional USA growth is not immune from declining equity prices and slowing global growth".

Stocks headed higher following the report. The U.S. dollar turned positive against a basket of currencies.

"Overall, the markets may have decided the Fed's work is done, but the economic data say otherwise", said Ashworth.

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Barring a big miss relative to estimates or major revisions to prior months' data, the December jobs gain is likely to push total U.S. employment above 150 million jobs for the first time.

The Labor Department has not been affected by the partial shutdown of the US government and will continue to publish economic data complied by its statistics agency, the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Data releases from Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis have been suspended during the shutdown, which started on Dec 22 amid demands by President Donald Trump for US$5 billion in border wall funding.

The economy ended the year by adding a much-stronger-than-expected 312,000 jobs in December - the biggest gain in 10 months, the Labor Department said Friday. That could mean the January jobs report released next month would show a drop rather than a gain in employment.

But the expected continuation of steady job growth suggests that such risks might be - for the moment, anyway - overblown.

Paychecks grew as employers raised wages to attract new workers.

There are concerns that tightening financial market conditions because of the steep stock market selloff could hurt hiring. The government shutdown, if it extends beyond next week, could weigh on January payrolls.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) survey published on Thursday offered a downbeat assessment of the manufacturing sector, with nearly all components declining last month.

Employment at construction sites is expected to have rebounded after companies hired the fewest workers in eight months in November.

Barclays - 185,000 jobs, 3.6 percent unemployment, 3 percent annual wage gain.

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