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Market Insights

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8th March 2019
Weaker than expected US hiring in February

US employers added just 20,000 jobs in February, significantly lower than the market’s expectation of 180,000 and the fewest in over a year. This disappointing figure was offset by a fall in the unemployment rate from 4% to 3.8% and a rise in average hourly pay of 3.4% from a year earlier. This decline in jobs growth from January’s high was fuelled by the decline in construction jobs, while the fall in the unemployment rate was driven by many civil servants returning to work after the US government shutdown. Although there were several conflicting signals from this month’s jobs numbers, the immediate market reaction was generally negative and included a fall in US stocks and the US dollar, while safe haven assets such as US government debt, gold and the yen rallied.