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US STOCKS-Wall St set to open higher on robust jobs data
March 10, 2017 / 2:03 PM / 9 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open higher on robust jobs data

* U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in Feb vs est. 190,000

* Bank stocks rise premarket as rate hike odds firm up

* Futures up: Dow 88 pts, S&P 10.5 pts, Nasdaq 21 pts (Adds details, comments, updates prices)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

March 10 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks looked set to open higher on Friday after an upbeat monthly jobs report underscored the strength of the U.S. economy and firmed the odds for the first interest rate hike this year.

The Labor Department data showed 235,000 jobs were added in the public and private sectors in February, blowing past economists’ average estimate of 190,000 as the construction industry recorded its largest gain in nearly 10 years.

Unemployment rate stood at 4.7 percent, while average earnings edged up 0.2 percent.

“I suspect that there is a positive impact from milder weather in February which may have skewed this number to the high side,” said Alan Gayle, director of asset allocation at Ridgeworth Investments in Atlanta, Georgia.

“But the operative message is that the jobs market continues to strengthen, and that is likely to give the FOMC a green light to raise rates when they meet next week.”

A slew of recent robust data has encouraged the Federal Reserve to turn more hawkish on interest rates.

The odds of a rate hike during the Fed’s meeting next week edged up to 89.7 percent after the report, according to Reuters data.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s conference after the two-day meeting next week will be closely watched for clues on the pace of future rate hikes.

Dow e-minis were up 88 points, or 0.42 percent, at 8:32 a.m. ET (1332 GMT), with 18,690 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 10.5 points, or 0.44 percent, with 191,460 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 21 points, or 0.39 percent, on volume of 15,479 contracts.

In the 49 days of Donald Trump’s presidency, the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke above 20,000 points and the S&P 500 crossed $20 trillion in market value on bets that he would usher in an era of tax cuts, simpler regulations and higher infrastructure spending.

However, the lack of detail on Trump’s plans has raised questions about valuations and taken the heat off the post-election rally.

Wall Street closed little changed on Thursday as a late rebound in oil prices cut losses in the energy sector. Oil was up 0.7 percent on Friday.

Shares of big U.S. banks, including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley, were up more than 1 percent in premarket trading.

Alexandria Real Estate Equities was off 5 percent at $108.04 after the REIT priced an offering of 6.1 million shares at $108.55 per share - a 4.5 percent discount to its Thursday close.

Finisar Corp dropped 17 percent to $29.11 after the network equipment maker issued disappointing revenue and profit forecasts for the current quarter. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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