Employers added 157,000 workers to payrolls in January after a revised 196,000 rise the prior month and a 247,000 surge in November, Labor Department data showed Feb. 1. Revisions added a total of 127,000 jobs in the last two months of 2012.
The stock market also is showing signs of strength. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 5 percent in January, its biggest gain for the month since 1997. The S&P 500 has rallied for six straight weeks, closing on Feb. 8 at the highest level since November 2007.
Demand for automobiles as consumers replace older cars and trucks is benefiting automakers such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.
Cars and light trucks sold at a 15.2 million annual rate in January after 15.3 million in December, according to data from Ward’s Automotive Group. Ford’s deliveries surged 22 percent last month compared with January 2012 and General Motors sales climbed 16 percent, the companies reported Feb. 1.
Household purchases climbed at a 2.2 percent annual rate in the final three months of 2012, up from 1.6 percent in the third quarter, Commerce Department data show.