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U.S. economy adds 379,000 jobs in February as hiring speeds up – MarketWatch

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The numbers: The U.S. created 379,000 new jobs in February — the biggest gain in four months — in what’s likely to be a preview of a surge in hiring in the months ahead as most people get vaccinated and the economy fully reopens.

The increase in hiring last month was concentrated at businesses such as restaurants, retailers, hotels and entertainment venues as states eased restrictions on customer limits and public gatherings. Most other industries also added workers.

Hiring was also much stronger in January than initially reported.

The U.S. economy added the most new jobs in February in four months. Above, a hiring sign is displayed on a Target store in California.


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

See: A visual look at how an unfair pandemic has reshaped work and home

The official unemployment rate, meanwhile, slipped to 6.2% from 6.3%, although economists widely believe the real rate is much higher.

Federal Reserve officials peg the jobless rate at closer to 10% after adjusting the data for distortions caused by the pandemic.

The rebound in job creation in February is likely the start of a major new cycle of hiring. Warmer weather, falling coronavirus cases, rising vaccinations and another massive increase in federal stimulus are likely to act as jet fuel for the economy in the spring and summer, Wall Street pros and Fed officials say.

Read: Inflation worries are back. Should you worry?

The increase in new jobs easily exceeded Wall Street expectations. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal had forecast 210,000 new jobs. Stocks rose in premarket trading.

Read: Unemployment claims rise slightly to 745,000 after Texas power outages

What happened: New jobs in leisure and hospitality — restaurants, hotels, casinos, theaters and the like — surged by 355,000 last month to account for most of the hiring in February.

These companies had lost more than 500,000 jobs in December and January after coronavirus cases reached a crescendo and the weather turned cold.

Hiring is likely to spring back even stronger in the months ahead as the weather warms and Americans fell more confident traveling, dining out, going to a game or visiting a museum or amusement park.

Professional firms also added 63,000 employees — though most were temporary — while health-care providers and retailers both filled 40,000-plus jobs. Manufacturers chipped in with 21,000 new hires

Read: Manufacturers grow at fastest pace since pandemic

Employment in construction fell by a surprising 61,000 even though companies are desperately seeking to hire. Poor weather last month was the main culprit.

Home sales have soared during the pandemic, but builders are facing a shortage of skilled workers that probably won’t ease up even if the pandemic does.

State and local governments also shed 86,000 jobs last month, mostly in education, but the decline likely reflects seasonal distortions tied to the pandemic. Private-sector hiring rose an even stronger 465,000 in February when government is excluded.

A smallish 50,000 people, meanwhile, rejoined the labor force in February, but that still means some 4.2 million people have gone missing during the pandemic. Those people are no longer counted in the official unemployment rate, making it artificially low.

The number of jobs created in January was revised up sharply to 166,000 from 49,000. The employment decline in December was raised to 306,000 from 227,000, however.

The big picture: The economy is poised to start growing by leaps and bounds again after a tough winter — if the coronavirus vaccines prove very effective.

An effective vaccine will allow states to remove all restrictions, let Americans go about their lives again without fear for their safety and give companies the incentive to hire. Fresh government financial aid will only add to the budding momentum.

What they are saying? “With vaccine distribution continuing to accelerate and with the economy in the initial stages of a reopening, the coming months should see robust gains,” said chief economist Curt Long of the National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions.

‘The engine of economic recovery is restarting as the pandemic’s winter wave recedes, although there is still a long way to go,” said senior economist Daniel Zhao of Glassdoor. “The economy would need to add almost 1 million jobs a month for the rest of 2021 to return to pre-crisis levels by the end of the year.”

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.20%

and S&P 500
SPX,
+0.02%

were set to open higher in Friday trades.

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Britain is ‘bouncing back’ into the same old economy – The Guardian

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Britain is ‘bouncing back’ into the same old economy  The Guardian



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CANADA STOCKS – TSX ends flat at 19,228.03

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* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX falls 0.00 percent to 19,228.03

* Leading the index were Corus Entertainment Inc <CJRb.TO​>, up 7.0%, Methanex Corp​, up 6.4%, and Canaccord Genuity Group Inc​, higher by 5.5%.

* Lagging shares were Denison Mines Corp​​, down 7.0%, Trillium Therapeutics Inc​, down 7.0%, and Nexgen Energy Ltd​, lower by 5.7%.

* On the TSX 93 issues rose and 128 fell as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners. There were 26 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 183.7 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Toronto-dominion Bank, Nutrien Ltd and Organigram Holdings Inc.

* The TSX’s energy group fell 1.61 points, or 1.4%, while the financials sector climbed 0.67 points, or 0.2%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.44%, or $0.26, to $59.34 a barrel. Brent crude  fell 0.24%, or $0.15, to $63.05 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 10.3% for the year.

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Canadian dollar outshines G10 peers, boosted by jobs surge

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Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian dollar advanced against its broadly stronger U.S. counterpart on Friday as data showing the economy added far more jobs than expected in March offset lower oil prices, with the loonie also gaining for the week.

Canada added 303,100 jobs in March, triple analyst expectations, driven by the recovery across sectors hit by shutdowns in December and January to curb the new coronavirus.

“The Canadian economy keeps beating expectations,” said Michael Goshko, corporate risk manager at Western Union Business Solutions. “It seems like the economy is adapting to these closures and restrictions.”

Stronger-than-expected economic growth could pull forward the timing of the first interest rate hike by the Bank of Canada, Goshko said.

The central bank has signaled that its benchmark rate will stay at a record low of 0.25% until 2023. It is due to update its economic forecasts on April 21, when some analysts expect it to cut bond purchases.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2530 to the greenback, or 79.81 U.S. cents, the biggest gain among G10 currencies. For the week, it was also up 0.3%.

Still, speculators have cut their bullish bets on the Canadian dollar to the lowest since December, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. As of April 6, net long positions had fallen to 2,690 contracts from 6,518 in the prior week.

The price of oil, one of Canada‘s major exports, was pressured by rising supplies from major producers. U.S. crude prices settled 0.5% lower at $59.32 a barrel, while the U.S. dollar gained ground against a basket of major currencies, supported by higher U.S. Treasury yields.

Canadian government bond yields also climbed and the curve steepened, with the 10-year up 4.1 basis points at 1.502%.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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