New York Stock Exchange building/AP
Wall Street investors and Main Street voters will
get a final snapshot of the U.S. jobs market early Friday when the
government reports how many new jobs were created in October. Economists
estimate that 125,000 jobs were created and expect the unemployment
rate to tick slightly higher to 7.9%. Last month, the economy created
114,000 jobs and the jobless rate fell sharply to 7.8% from 8.1%,
surprising Wall Street.
The latest reading on jobs has political
as well as financial and economic implications, says Darrell Cronk,
regional chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank. The jobs
report "will allow us to understand the extent to which Corporate
America has begun pulling back on hiring ahead of the much-publicized
fiscal cliff," Cronk says. "The health of the economy is (also) Priority
One for the U.S. electorate. This will be the last key data point for
voters to digest."
A strong number will provide a positive
storyline for President Obama heading into Tuesday's vote. A weak
reading will give Republican Mitt Romney ammunition to argue that
Obama's policies aren't working.
A batch of good jobs data arrived
Thursday. Payroll processor ADP said a better-than-expected 158,000
private-sector jobs were created last month. Another report showed 9,000
fewer people filed for first-time jobless benefits last week. But that
upbeat news clashes with a Challenger Gray & Christmas report
showing planned job cuts by employers surged 41% last month.