U.S. Stock Futures Remain Higher, Treasuries Gain on Jobs

U.S. stock futures remained higher, while the dollar slid and Treasuries and gold advanced, as weaker-than-forecast growth in American payrolls spurred bets the Federal Reserve will undertake more monetary stimulus.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring this month were up 0.4 percent at 1,436.2 as of 8:49 a.m. in New York after the benchmark gauge yesterday surged to the highest level since January 2008. The Dollar Index, a gauge of the currency against six major peers, slid 0.8 percent to the lowest level since May. Ten-year Treasury yields fell six basis points to 1.62 percent and gold futures added 1.3 percent to $1,728.40 an ounce, the highest since March.

The economy added 96,000 workers last month following a revised 141,000 rise in July that was smaller than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of 92 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a gain of 130,000. Unemployment unexpectedly fell to 8.1 percent as more Americans left the workforce, and hourly earnings were unchanged.

“It’s a disappointing report across the board and it puts the Fed in the driver's seat for additional quantitative easing,” said Chad Morganlander, a Florham Park, New Jersey-based fund manager at Stifel Nicolaus & Co., which oversees about $120 billion of assets. “It’s not a negative number, but there is very little vibrancy to the report and the trend is dismal. It lacks the get-up-and-go that we need to get the economy moving again.”

While the S&P 500 in August reached its highest level on an intraday basis since 2008, yesterday was the first time it closed at a multi-year high since April.

The index has risen almost 14 percent this year as European leaders worked to tame the region’s debt crisis and the Federal Reserve vowed to safeguard the economic recovery. Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, last week he wouldn’t rule out more stimulus to help bolster an employment market he described as “a grave concern.”

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