By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. job growth rose more than expected in February, easing fears of an abrupt slowdown in economic growth and keeping the Federal Reserve on track to continue reducing its monetary stimulus. Employers added 175,000 jobs to their payrolls last month after creating 129,000 new positions in January, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate, however, rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent. "This bodes well for the economy since there were massive headwinds against it and there had been some data before this indicating that it wouldn't be so strong," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive at Sarhan Capital in New York.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 hit a fresh intraday record high on Friday after more jobs than expected were created in February and January's figure was revised higher, with traders keeping an eye on lingering tensions in Ukraine. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 40.3 points, or 0.25 percent, to 16,462.19, the S&P 500 gained 4.01 points, or 0.21 percent, to 1,881.04 and the Nasdaq Composite added 9.391 points, or 0.22 percent, to 4,361.517. (Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
William Dudley, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said a policy meeting later this month is a good time for the U.S. central bank to adjust its published guidance on when interest rates would eventually rise, according to a published report. The Fed, which has held rates near zero since late 2008, has said it would not consider a rate rise until well after the U.S. unemployment rate falls below a threshold of 6.5 percent, as long as inflation remains below 2.5 percent. A government report earlier on Friday showed the U.S. unemployment rate ticked up to 6.7 percent in February from 6.6 percent in January, still very close to the Fed's long-standing threshold.
The U.S. trade deficit was little changed in January as a rebound in exports matched an increase in imports. The Commerce Department said on Friday the trade gap was at $39.1 billion from December's revised shortfall of $39.0 billion. December's trade gap was previously reported as being $38.7 billion. January's trade deficit was in line with economists' expectations.