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Job Growth Spurs Stock Market Higher

Jeremy Lutz - MarketClub

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U.S. job growth accelerated in October after hurricane-related disruptions in the prior month, but a sharp retreat in annual wage gains and surge in the number of people dropping out of the workforce cast a cloud over the labor market. Despite the mixed news, the stock market is heading towards record highs after a somewhat weak opening.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 261,000 jobs last month as 106,000 leisure and hospitality workers returned to work, the Labor Department said in its closely watched employment report on Friday. That was the largest gain since July 2016 but below economists' expectations for an increase of 310,000 jobs.

Data for September was revised to show a gain of 18,000 jobs instead of a decline of 33,000 as previously reported. Some aspects of the report, however, were downbeat.

Average hourly earnings slipped by one cent, leaving them unchanged in percentage terms, in part because of the return of the lower-paid industry workers. That lowered the year-on-year increase to 2.4%, which was the smallest since February 2016. Wages shot up 0.5 percent in September, lifting the annual increase in that month to 2.9%.

Still, October's job growth acceleration reinforced the Federal Reserve's assessment on Wednesday that "the labor market has continued to strengthen," and probably does little to change expectations it will raise interest rates in December. The U.S. central bank has lifted rates twice this year.

Key levels to watch next week:
S&P 500 (CME:SP500): 2,544.00
Dow (INDEX:DJI): 22,887.12
NASDAQ (NASDAQ:COMP): 6,517.93
Gold (NYMEX:GC.Z17.E): 1,285.10
Crude Oil (NYMEX:CL.X17.E): 53.89
U.S. Dollar (NYBOT:DX.Z17.E): 92.91
Bitcoin (CME:BRTI): 5,191.02

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