The March US employment report has revealed a solid increase in jobs and wages. But is it solid enough to cause the Fed to rethink its cautious stance towards further interest rate hikes?
The US Labor Department's latest employment report released Friday showed employers added 215,000 jobs in March and that hourly wages ticked up by seven cents on average (0.62 euros).
Despite the new jobs, the US jobless rate rose from 4.9 to 5 percent. This means that more Americans have actively registered as jobseekers, a figure that suggests confidence in the job market.
The numbers also reveal that the US continues to perform relatively well despite less than fortuitous conditions. Growth is slow and oil is cheap worldwide, and a strong US dollar has hampered the country's exports.
The gain in jobs was slightly better than expected, yet lower than the 242,000 jobs added in February.
Closely watching the Fed
The positive numbers are expected to feed the argument for the US Federal Reserve to reconsider its cautious approach - the media has dubbed it "dovish" - to hiking interest rates.
The moderate stance was reiterated earlier this week in a speech by Fed Chair Janet Yellen.
She noted that the US economic outlook, in light of global turmoil, was too uncertain. Some regional Fed presidents have read recent figures more optimistically and have spoken of a somewhat speedier rate hikes.
Investors have closely followed indications that the Fed will decide one way or the other. Yellen's message echoed throughout the week, with stocks up on Wall Street. But a slow start Friday is expected, as investors calculate from the jobs report a higher chance of an interest rate hike coming sooner.
jtm/jd (dpa, Reuters)