US employers added 304,000 net new positions last month — the highest in nearly a year and almost double what economists had predicted — while growth in worker pay held steady above inflation, according to the government jobs report.
However, the unemployment rate ticked up to 4.0 per cent, the highest in seven months, as the labour force expanded and as the US government was partially shut for five weeks, most of which fell in January.
James Knightley, chief international economist at Dutch bank ING, said the report “suggests that the US economy hasn’t been adversely impacted by the government shutdown in any meaningful way.”
After a choppy session, the Dow and S&P 500 finished with small gains, while the Nasdaq retreated modestly.
Analysts said the market was primed for a pause after a torrid run in January fuelled by dovish Federal Reserve statements and optimism over US-China trade talks.
“The indexes are basically flat and consolidating some of the recent gains,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.
In Europe, London and Paris ended the day with solid gains, while Frankfurt finished essentially flat, penalised by shares in fintech Wirecard which plunged by a quarter.
China-US trade talks this week ended with no deal but with both sides sounding notes of optimism and setting up more high-level meetings later this month, temporarily soothing concerns of an all-out trade war.
The Shanghai stock market jumped yesterday to close up 1.3 per cent as optimism over the negotiations offset disappointing Chinese manufacturing data.
Oil giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron both jumped more than three per cent after reporting better-than-expected fourth-quarter profits. Exxon Mobil raised its 2019 capital budget, while Chevron announced a dividend increase as well as a new US$25 billion (RM102.4 billion) share repurchase programme.
But Amazon fell 5.4 per cent on disappointment over the online retailer’s profit forecast. The company reported a 63 per cent jump in fourth-quarter profits to US$3 billion. — AFP
Source: The Malay Mail Online