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Pre-Market Primer: Job Growth Blows Past Expectations; Massive Upward Revisions for February and March

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Very encouraging signs in April's job's report.

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Job growth in the United States gave investors a positive surprise today.

Non-farm payrolls rose by 165,000 in April. Government cutbacks and a slump in mining and construction hiring dragged on overall hiring, but strength in retail, health care, and professional and business services led to more robust hiring than expected. Temporary services, a leading indicator of business expansion, rose by 30,800.

The unemployment rate ticked down to 7.5% despite no change in the participation rate.

Economists expected only a modest rise of 145,000 net hires last month. In March, only 88,000 jobs were added to the payroll, but this was revised to 138,000 in this month's report. February's 268,000 was revised up to 332,000. Earlier this week, ADP's private sector payrolls report showed only 119,000.

Stock index futures were largely flat ahead of the data release. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were down 0.01% at 14,759. Futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) slipped 0.10% to 1,590.70 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures ticked up 0.01% to 2,902.25. Stocks in Asia and Europe were mostly in positive territory before the crucial US payroll report.

Later this morning, factory orders and ISM non-manufacturing data will hit the wires. Economists expect to see orders fall 2.9% in the US in March after rising 3% in February and the services sector to have slowed its expansion slightly to 54 in April from 54.4 in March. ISM readings above 50 indicate expansion in the sector.

China's non-manufacturing PMI also slowed last month to 54.5 from 55.6 in March. This echoes the slowdown in manufacturing which fell to 50.6 in March.

The UK services sector grew at the fastest pace in eight months in April, rising to 52.9 from 52.4 in March.

The European Commission cut its forecast for the eurozone economy. Gross domestic product in the 17-member union will fall 0.4% in 2013. Previously, it predicted a 0.3% economic contraction.

Yesterday, LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) beat earnings estimates with earnings per share of $0.45, but shares tumbled about 10% after hours as the professional social network projected revenue between $342 and $347 million for the current quarter, falling short of Wall Street's estimates. The number of registered users rose by 16 million in the first three months of the year.

Kraft Foods (NASDAQ:KRFT) rose 2% in pre-market trading after reporting better-than-expected earnings. The grocery giant earned $0.76 per share in the first three months of the year. Even with a $0.12-per-share restructuring charge, the company handily beat earnings estimates. Kraft reiterated its full-year guidance of $2.75 per share.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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