117,000 New Jobs Added Last Month; Unemployment at 9.1%

The economy adds 117,000 jobs in July

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After U.S. stocks had the single worst day since the 2008 financial crisis, today's Labor Department monthly job report becomes even more important as a market indicator. And the numbers, released at 8:30 am ET, are here, via Reuters:

U.S. payrolls increased 117,000, the Labor Department said on Friday, above market expectations for an 85,000 gain. The unemployment rate dipped to 9.1 percent from 9.2 percent in June, but this was mostly the result of people leaving the labor force.

"These aren't great numbers, but they are better than they could have been," blogged The Wall Street Journal.

In a preview of the numbers, Joseph LaVorgna, Chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, told National Journal that there needs to be an optimistic report for stocks to have a chance to rally: "To say the market is psychologically fragile is an understatement...We really need a much better than expected number."

Economists surveyed by CNN Money had anticipated that July would add 75,000 jobs, an improvement over last month's mini-disaster of only 18,000 jobs added despite far larger expectations. The Associated Press's survey of economists, by FactSet, forecast that 90,000 jobs would be added last month and that unemployment will remain at 9.2 percent. The Wall Street Journal's Kelly Evans parsed the report's impact this way:

The key question is: should the report manage a rare upside surprise, would stocks rally or sell off on the news? A rally would be the normal reaction.....But these aren't normal times and a strong jobs report Friday could actually spur a stock-market sell-off or vice versa if it's a weak one. The reason? Speculation has already begun that economic conditions are weak enough to warrant a response from the Federal Reserve – a third bout of bond buying perhaps, since the Fed can't lower interest rates any further.

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