Wall Street was set to open higher on Friday after payrolls data showed strong job additions in February, but a slowdown in wage growth pointed to a gradual rise in inflation, tempering expectations of faster interest rate increases.
Nonfarm payrolls jumped by 313,000 jobs last month, boosted by the largest gain in construction jobs since 2007, recording its biggest increase in more than 1-1/2 year, the Labor Department said.
Average hourly earnings edged up four cents, or 0.1 percent, to $26.75 in February, a slowdown from the 0.3 percent rise in January. That lowered the year-on-year increase in average hourly earnings to 2.6 percent from 2.8 percent in January.
“The great news is the labor participation rate went up, the headlines number are great, and the average hourly earnings has settled back down into consensus,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.
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