Bloomberg News

U.S. Stock Futures Rally After Employment Growth Tops Forecasts

February 03, 2012

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures rallied after January employment growth topped economists’ estimates and the jobless rate dropped more than forecast to 8.3 percent.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring next month climbed 0.8 percent to 1,333.8 at 8:31 a.m. in New York.

The 243,000 increase in payrolls was the most since April and exceeded all forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey, Labor Department figures showed in Washington. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent, the lowest since February 2009.

Most U.S. stocks gained yesterday as a drop in jobless claims fueled optimism about the economy before today’s employment data. The S&P 500 is poised for a fifth straight weekly advance, its longest streak in a year.

The S&P 500 has rallied 21 percent since its 2011 low on Oct. 3 as the Federal Reserve pledged to keep interest rates low through 2014, economic data topped estimates and the European Central Bank provided cheaper lending to help banks. Companies added 170,000 workers to their payrolls in January, ADP Employer Services data showed Feb. 1.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke reiterated his concern about the health of the U.S. economy yesterday, answering questions from Republican Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Earnings beat projections at 66 percent of the 258 companies in the S&P 500 that reported results since Jan. 9, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The S&P 500 is trading for about 13.8 times its companies’ earnings.

--Editors: Michael P. Regan, Jeff Sutherland

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael P. Regan in New York at mregan12@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Baker at nbaker7@bloomberg.net


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