U.S. stock, crude futures jump on February jobs report

Fri Mar 7, 2014 9:15am EST
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By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stock and crude futures jumped and the dollar strengthened on Friday after a report on U.S. employment showed jobs growth was greater than expected last month, easing fears a recent soft patch in the economy was due to more than a harsh winter.

A leading European stock index pared losses, and government debt prices fell after the U.S. Labor Department said employers added 175,000 jobs to payrolls in February after creating 129,000 positions in January.

The U.S. unemployment rate, however, rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent. Economists polled by Reuters had expected nonfarm payrolls to rise 149,000 and the unemployment rate to hold steady.

"We may be seeing some growth returning. The economy may be back to where it was before the weather distortions," said Craig Dismuke, chief economic strategist at Vining Sparks in Memphis. "At the base level it should be negative for bonds, but mildly positive for stocks and the dollar."

U.S. short-term interest-rate futures contracts fell on the jobs report, prompting some traders to price in an earlier date for a rate hike from the Federal Reserve.

Contracts show markets are now assigning a roughly 53 percent chance of a first Fed rate hike in June 2015, based on CME FedWatch, which tracks rate hike expectations using its fed funds futures contracts.

The dollar jumped to a six-week high against the yen, while the euro rose against the greenback.

The S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 7.5 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract.   Continued...

Pedestrians walk past an electronic board showing various stock prices, which are reflected in a polished stone surface, outside a brokerage in Tokyo January 24, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino