NEW YORK (Reuters) - Employment rose more than expected in April, pushing the unemployment rate to a four-year low of 7.5 percent, which could help ease concerns of a sharp slowdown in the economy.
Nonfarm payrolls rose 165,000 last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. March's payrolls were raised to 138,000, 50,000 more jobs than previously reported, and February's job count was revised up to 332,000, the largest since May 2010.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected April payrolls to rise 145,000 and the unemployment rate to hold steady at 7.6 percent. The drop in the unemployment rate last month reflected an increase in employment, rather than people leaving the workforce.
ANDREW GRANTHAM, ECONOMIST, CIBC WORLD MARKETS ECONOMICS, TORONTO:
"After a slow build up in terms of a disappointing ADP survey and some of the survey evidence seen over the past week, non-farm payrolls managed a significant upside surprise, not just in terms of the April figure but also upward revisions to previous months.
"Overall, a strong set of numbers which will reassure markets on that the U.S. economy is not as weak as it may have seemed given some of the earlier data, although it may not be strong enough on its own to see renewed talk of tapering QE."
DARRELL CRONK, REGIONAL CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER FOR WELLS FARGO PRIVATE BANK IN NEW YORK:
"That was a strikingly good report, every piece of that. Obviously the number for April was only slightly above consensus but the revisions for March and February were quite frankly stunning, those were really nice revisions. To me the bones of the data are looking really good right now.
"This is the type of data that people then begin to look through some of the noise that is in the ISM data, or the PMI data, some of that type of stuff. When the labor markets are firming up, they feel better about that."
CAM ALBRIGHT, DIRECTOR OF ASSET ALLOCATION, WILMINGTON
TRUST INVESTMENT ADVISORS, WILMINGTON, DELAWARE:
"The April numbers were clearly better than expectations, and the fairly large dip we saw in march was largely erased.
"This will probably give the (equity) market at least a near-term boost, particularly given the revisions that we saw."
JAMES BARNES, SENIOR FIXED INCOME PORTFOLIO MANAGER, NATIONAL PENN INVESTORS TRUST CO., WYOMISSING, PENNSYLVANIA:
"These are pretty numbers along with the revisions. The big slowdown people had been expecting might not be as severe as they had thought. The bond market is selling off on this report. This is a type of sell-off that could build momentum throughout the day."
MICHAEL KORN, PRESIDENT AT SKOKIE ENERGY IN PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY:
"The employment number was definitely the trigger for today's rally, so we'll see if right now if U.S. crude can hold the opening of $1 to $1.25 higher.
When we get up to about $95, it gets a little shaky. If you're a speculator you may look to sell $2 or $3 higher; if you're a buyer you're probably looking at getting in now.
ALAN RUSKIN, HEAD OF G10 FX STRATEGY AT DEUTSCHE BANK IN NEW YORK:
"The payrolls data will definitely go down as substantially stronger than expected, albeit with one weak element: soft hours worked. That will be trumped by substantially stronger payrolls, especially after major prior revisions to February and March data and a decline in the unemployment rate with a decent household employment gain.
"Private payrolls now no longer seem to have had a spring swoon, especially when cold weather is considered (weather was likely a factor behind the -6,000 April construction number. Weather should be a positive factor in the May data."
RUSSELL PRICE, SENIOR ECONOMIST, AMERIPRISE FINANCIAL SERVICES INC, TROY, MICHIGAN:
"As bad as the March number was originally perceived to be, this one's just that much better. It was quite a turnaround. It really does confirm the idea that weather had an impact during the month of March, even though the numbers for March were revised higher.
"And maybe even more importantly, the idea that the employment is holding as well as it is in the face of the fiscal headwinds the economy is currently enduring, is a very positive sign of the economy's underlying fundamental improvements.
"I don't think today's data is strong enough to completely offset some of the weakness we have seen in some other areas, such as overall manufacturing activity and the general pace of economic growth, so I think the Fed will remain fully engaged."
ADDISON ARMSTRONG, DIRECTOR OF MARKET RESEARCH, TRADITION
ENERGY IN STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT:
"This report is clearly bullish for commodities. I think that's why crude just popped around 60 cents. The S&P's up and crude's just following that."
JOHN KILDUFF, PARTNER AT AGAIN CAPITAL IN NEW YORK:
"This was a very strong report, it's not necessarily from the headline number, but the upward revisions were quite strong, particularly the February data being revised upwards over 300,000 new jobs.
"Clearly that's lending strength here to the outlook for the U.S. economy and for energy demand, which is quite sensitive to employment outlook and state of employment in general."
OMER ESINER, CHIEF MARKET ANALYST, COMMONWEALTH FOREIGN EXCHANGE, WASHINGTON:
"It was a good number. Certainly better than expected in the headline reading but perhaps more importantly were the very strong upward revisions to the March and February numbers.
"Combined with the decline in the jobless rate the revisions help suggest that the Spring slowdown may not be as pronounced as feared. It is good news for the dollar especially in light of the Fed's statement this week which put even more focus on upcoming U.S. economic numbers."
JOE MANIMBO, MARKET ANALYST, WESTERN UNION BUSINESS SOLUTIONS, WASHINGTON:
"It was surprisingly positive. This shows the job market and the economy in general appear to be more resilient than investors had feared. The weight this jobs report carries from month to month can go some way to reviving the notion that the Fed could taper later this year. And the big revision to February suggests we could even see a revision to first quarter growth."
TOM PORCELLI, CHIEF U.S. ECONOMIST, RBC CAPITAL MARKETS, NEW YORK:
"Looking at the headlines alone it is a positive report, however, taking it all in aggregate it is much more mixed.
"A couple of things drive this home, namely average weekly earnings are down and aggregate hours. Those are more forward looking metrics and how it will unfold in the fourth quarter that is not encouraging."
MARKET REACTION: STOCKS: U.S. stock index futures shot up on Friday after data showed U.S. employment rose more than expected in April, pushing the unemployment rate down to 7.5 percent, which could help ease concerns of a sharp slowdown in the economy. S&P 500 futures SPc1 rose 8.5 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures DJc1 added 79 points and Nasdaq 100 futures NDc1 rose 17 points.
BONDS: U.S. bond prices fell along with German Bund futures. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note, down 1/32 before the report, was down 19/32 afterwards. Its yield rose to 1.70 percent from 1.63 percent late on Thursday.
FOREX: The dollar rose as high as 99.18 yen, compared with 97.95 yen before the data. It was last at 99.14 yen, up 1.3 percent on the day. The euro was 0.1 percent lower on the day at $1.3059, compared with $1.3118 before the release of the data.
GRAPHIC: U.S. nonfarm payrolls:
(Americas Economics and Markets Desk; +1-646 223-6300)