Strong U.S. payrolls report boosts dollar, stocks

March 4, 2016 09:28 AM

The U.S. dollar rose along with stocks on Friday after data showed the labor market in the United States was in good shape, fanning expectations the Federal Reserve will gradually raise interest rates this year.

European and U.S. stock markets headed for their third week of gains, with the FTSEurofirst up 1% and futures prices predicting a 0.5. to 0.7% advance when trading starts in New York.

Data from the U.S. Labor Department showed nonfarm payrolls grew by 242,000 jobs last month, beating forecasts for 190,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate held at an eight-year low of 4.9%, even though more people entered the job market.

The data also showed the U.S. added 30,000 more jobs in December and January than previously reported. The only blemish in the report was a three-cent drop in average hourly earnings, but that was mostly because of a calendar quirk. 

"Labor market conditions are improving, but it's really a mixed bag and should easily keep the Fed on pause. They'll pause, but not stop, and the difference is important. I still think we could see a hike in June, but not before then," said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management.

The dollar rose 0.3% against a basket of major currencies as the euro fell back to $1.0940. The dollar was also up against the yen at 114.02 yen.

Treasury yields climbed. The yield on the three-, five- and seven-year Treasuries were all trading near their highest in about a month after the payrolls data.

Earlier, solid results for the world's largest advertiser WPP had dovetailed with the latest tick-up in commodities markets and hopes for another shot of European Central Bank stimulus next week to put Europe on track for a 3% weekly rise.

Oil and other commodity prices also rose, although save-haven favorite gold remained an outlier as it consolidated a 13-month high. 

Benchmark Brent futures were at two-month highs of $37.68 per barrel as they headed for a gain of 6.7% this week. Iron ore and copper both hit four-month highs, with the latter on course for its best week in roughly six months.


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