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Stock markets wobble as employment boom heightens jitters over central bank's $85bn-a-month bond-buying programme. Read this story on the Guardian here.
Stock markets came under pressure and the dollar soared on Friday after better-than-expected US employment figures brought the end of the huge stimulus package for the economy a step closer.
The US added 195,000 jobs in June, beating expectations but leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 7.6%. The headline figure was better than the 160,000 forecast by economists, while the numbers for the two previous months were revised upwards.
Last month the US Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, sent markets tumbling when he hinted that the central bank's $85bn-a-month bond-buying programme might ease by the end of the year if the economy continued to strengthen.
The jobs figures added further evidence that could prompt the Fed to turn off the money taps that have helped support global markets for months.
Tanweer Akram at ING said: "The decent improvement in employment is likely to induce the Fed to begin moderately tapering its asset purchase programme by September, even though the unemployment rate is still high ... while inflation is undershooting the Fed's long-term target."
After an early surge when the figures were released, stock markets fell, with the FTSE 100 closing down 0.72% at 6375.5, having risen to 6,498. In the US, Wall Street was up just 16 points, or 0.1%, by the time London closed.
The dollar rose to a near three-year high against major currencies. Sterling slid to a near four-month-low against the dollar at $1.4855, before recovering to $1.4915, down 1.5 cents.
US Treasury yields - in effect the interest rate on government bonds - rose 0.19 basis points to 2.69% as investors bet on an end to the Fed's bond-buying programme, while gold tumbled 3% to $1,211 an ounce.
The pound was also weaker, after the Bank of England governor said on Thursday that UK interest rates were not likely to rise in the foreseeable future.
Last month, Bernanke said the US economy was improving but Washington's budget cuts were stalling the recovery. Some business leaders and Republicans argue that the imposition of the president's healthcare laws is slowing hiring, while Democrats say Republican-backed spending cuts are hurting the economy.
Responding to the latest monthly figures, Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House's council of economic advisers, said: "In the four years since the recession ended in June 2009, the economy has added 5.3m jobs, thanks to the resilience of the American people and policies like the Recovery Act, which helped bring the recession to an end and put us on the path to recovery. With the recovery gaining traction, now is not the time for Washington to impose self-inflicted wounds on the economy."
But Barack Obama's opponents said his policies were holding back further growth in the jobs market. The Republican House speaker, John Boehner, said: "There's some good news in this report, but economic growth is still tepid, the unemployment rate is far too high, and the president continues to promote policies that undermine robust job creation.
"Just look at the last few weeks: the president admits that his healthcare law is a drag on businesses; he threatens to veto a bill based on his own plan to make paying for college easier, then watches quietly as Senate Democrats let interest rates double; and he makes up new reasons to delay the Keystone pipeline in a speech about imposing a national energy tax.
"Imagine how many jobs would be created if the president stopped trying to expand government and started working with Republicans on policies that create sustained economic growth and expand opportunity for all Americans."
The Bureau of Labour Statistics, which compiles the report, said leisure and hospitality added 75,000 jobs in June. Monthly job growth in this industry has averaged 55,000 in 2013, almost twice the median gain of 30,000 per month in 2012. Employment in professional and business services rose by 53,000 in June.
Employment in most other major industries, including mining and logging, construction, manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing, showed little change. The government continued to cut jobs during the month, shedding another 5,000 positions to comprise 65,000 in the past 12 months.
The number of long-term unemployed (those left jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 4.3m, accounting for 36.7% of the unemployed. Unemployment rates for teenagers (24%), black people (13.7%), and Hispanics (9.1%) remained stubbornly high.
Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG called the latest figures a "darn good report". In a note to investors he highlighted a 0.4% rise in average hourly earnings, "tied for the highest rate of increase during the entire recovery. Finally, yes the unemployment rate did hold steady but it did so for all the right reasons. The number of unemployed people in the economy barely budged while the number of people working rose considerably," he wrote.
On Wednesday, ADP, the payroll processor, said the private sector had added 188,000 jobs from May to June. The previous month's tally was revised down marginally from 135,000 to 134,000.
The rise was across the economy, it said. Goods-producing employment rose by 27,000 jobs in June, the largest increase in four months. Construction payrolls rose by 21,000 in June, its biggest gain since January, and manufacturers added 1,000 jobs after a two-month decline.
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, which helps compile the ADP report, said: "The job market continues to gracefully navigate through the strongly blowing fiscal headwinds. Healthcare reform does not appear to be significantly hampering job growth, at least not so far. Job gains are broad based across industries and businesses of all sizes."guardian.co.uk Â© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds