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Friday, October 03, 2003

Job Data Turns Upwards

It always happens, one day after I post my opinions the market turns the other way.

U.S. employers added jobs in September for the first time in eight months, the Labor Department said on Friday in a surprise twist for financial markets, which had been braced for more losses. The number of workers on U.S. payrolls outside the farm sector grew by 57,000 last month, the first time since January that jobs were created and sharply contrary to Wall Street economists' forecasts for a 30,000-job loss.

The gain was not big enough to bring down the unemployment rate, which was unchanged at 6.1 percent in September, but analysts said it was encouraging after seven straight monthly declines in jobs. The department also said it appears the economy lost about 145,000 more jobs in the year ended March 2003, in a preliminary estimate that will be part of benchmark revisions it issues next February. The department's current figures show 397,000 jobs were scrubbed in that 12-month period. The dollar vaulted higher in the wake of jump in jobs, which implied U.S. economic performance was outpacing other major regions. Stocks were broadly higher in early trading, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up more than 100 points on investor hopes a strengthening economy will mean fatter profits ahead.
Source: Yahoo News

This is obviously good news if you're out of work and looking for a job, but it is still way too soon to get up on your seat and start cheering. We still need to see more data, and we're going to have to wait months rather than weeks before we can begin to really say anything with the level of confidence most of us would like to have. For the moment the job market remains distinctly weak, and it was this weaknes that was reflected in the consumer confidence index earlier in the week.

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