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Weak US jobs report may delay Fed rate hike

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US nonfarm payrolls in March showed that just 126,000 jobs were added to the economy compared to 245,000 expected ended a yearlong stretch of jobs created being above 200,000. The dismal numbers raised concern about broader economic growth in the US amid evidence of a slowdown, due to some recent weak US economic data.

Meanwhile revisions were made to the February number. The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised downward from 239,000 to 201,000, and the change for February was revised from 295,000 to 264,000.

The unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent. Part of this is because the number of people participating in the work force has declined.

The jobs report weakens the “argument for a mid-year hike” and may speculate that the Federal Reserve will hold back to raise rates at a later date than what was previously expected. Until recently, some economists predicted the first interest rate increase to be in June but expectations are being pushed back to September.

The lower jobs number is a reminder that the US economic recovery is yet to reach escape velocity.

The dollar tumbled on the data, especially against the yen and the euro. USDJPY fell to 118.73 on Friday from 119.97. EURUSD rallied to 1.1028 from 1.0878.

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