In advance of the FEB jobs report, pessimism reigned. Forecasters set their expectations low. Crummy jobs numbers in December and January served as daunting challenges to optimism.
The NY Times consensus called for February jobs growth at +149K. That amounted to an in-line trend of soft growth seen first in January and December. The NY Times consensus called for a flat household unemployment rate at 6.6%.
Consensus opined that record cold and heavy snow reduced hiring activity.
Despite the backward-looking negatives, there were positive signals heading into the report. Thursday’s big drop in weekly jobless claims helped rally the S&P 500 to yet another record close.
Serving as a leading indicator, the Bulls were running this week.
What did we get?
FEB jobs rose +175K. The FEB unemployment rate rose +0.1% to 6.7%.
Here are the relevant FEB background facts: Job growth averaged +189K the previous 12 months. Professional & Business Services added +79K of the new FEB jobs. Two FEB sector losers: Retail lost -4K, with Electronics and Appliances the loss leaders. Information lost -16K. Motion Pictures lost -14K of that and played the loss leader. It’s a volatile business.
My RTI Question: How Far Ahead Does This Market Look?
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