U.S. Stock Futures Erase Losses After Employment Report

U.S. stock futures erased losses after employment rose more than forecast in December while hourly wages retreated, bolstering the case to keep rates lower even as the economy strengthens.

Contracts on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in March rose 0.1 percent to 2,056.20 after dropping 0.4 percent.

Employment rose more than forecast in December and the jobless rate declined to 5.6 percent, wrapping up the best year for the labor market since 1999 and adding to evidence the U.S. is a standout in the global economy.

The addition of 252,000 jobs followed a 353,000 rise the prior month that was more than previously estimated, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The jobless rate dropped the lowest level since June 2008. The report wasn’t all good news as earnings unexpectedly declined from a month earlier.

S&P 500 futures fell earlier today after a person familiar with the matter said European Central Bank staff presented policy makers with models for buying as much as 500 billion euros ($591 billion) of investment-grade assets.

A 500 billion-euro purchase program would take the ECB halfway toward its goal of boosting its balance sheet to avert a deflationary spiral in the euro area.

The S&P 500 rebounded from a five-day drop to gain 3 percent in the last two days on speculation that the Federal Reserve will shore up the U.S. economy even as it shows signs of strength. Optimism about the labor market also fueled gains after data yesterday showed fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week.

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