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Stocks May Jump On Stronger Than Expected Job Growth - U.S. Commentary


Stocks are likely to move to the upside in early trading on Friday following the release of the closely watched monthly jobs report. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 172 points.

The upward momentum on Wall Street comes as the Labor Department report showed much stronger than expected job growth in February, although the report also showed a slowdown in the pace of wage growth.

The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment surged up by 313,000 jobs in February after jumping by an upwardly revised 239,000 jobs in January.

Economists had expected employment to climb by 200,000 jobs, matching the increase originally reported for the previous month.

Despite the stronger than expected job growth, the unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent in February. The unemployment rate had been expected to dip to 4.0 percent.

The report also said the annual rate of growth in average hourly employee earnings fell to 2.6 percent in February from 2.8 percent in January.

The markets may also benefit from easing geopolitical concerns amid news President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

In a post on Twitter, Trump said, "Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time."

"Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached," he added. "Meeting being planned!"

Shortly after the start of trading, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release its report on wholesale inventories in the month of January. Inventories are expected to climb by 0.7 percent.

Following the mixed performance seen on Wednesday, stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading day on Thursday. The major averages bounced back and forth across the unchanged line before closing firmly in positive territory.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq closed higher for the fifth consecutive session, climbing 31.30 points or 0.4 percent to 7,427.95. The Dow also rose 93.85 points or 0.4 percent to 24,895.21, and the S&P 500 advanced 12.17 points or 0.5 percent to 2,738.97.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region saw further upside during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index climbed by 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped by 1.1 percent.

The major European markets have also moved higher on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index has risen by 0.5 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.2 percent and the German DAX Index is just above the unchanged line.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are climbing $0.62 to $60.74 a barrel after tumbling $1.03 to $60.12 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after sliding $5.90 to $1,321.70 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are falling $5.10 to $1,316.60 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 106.89 yen compared to the 106.23 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.2282 compared to yesterday's $1.2252.

by RTT Staff Writer

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