Economists and traders were hoping the jobs report for March would reflect the fourth month in a row that over 200,000 jobs were added. Estimates were for 205,000 but came in with a nonfarm payroll increase of only 120,000. The unemployment rate held fairly steady around 8.2% and the number of people who have been out of work for at least 27 weeks was unchanged at 5.3 million.
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Traders early the morning of April 6 primarily wanted to see how futures would react. The unemployment report also came out on Good Friday in 2010 and futures on stock indices, the dollar, and the 10-year Treasury note all rose based on the strongest jobs report over the previous three years.
Futures after the April 6, 2012 report were down 120 points on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, down 16.2 points on the S&P 500 index, and off 25 points on the Nasdaq 100. Analysts were disappointed because the report was weak despite the exclusion of adjustments for seasonal factors. With the equities markets closed for the religious holiday, futures trading can be muted. Not so for the April 6 session. Activity was heavy and losses were significant, not boding well for Monday’s trading session.