April 5, 2019 / 1:19 PM / 8 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures jump as job growth rebounds in March, trade hopes add to optimism

* U.S. job additions better-than-expected in March

* Trump says trade deal to be announced within 4 weeks

* BofA Merrill expects S&P to rise above 3,000 in 2nd-qtr

* Futures up: Dow 0.34%, S&P 0.26%, Nasdaq 0.38% (Adds comment, details, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

April 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures jumped on Friday as employment growth in March accelerated from a 17-month low, easing concerns of a domestic slowdown, while hopes of a U.S.-China trade deal added to the sentiment.

The Labor Department report showed nonfarm payrolls rose by 196,000 jobs last month, above economists’ estimate of 180,000. Data for February was revised modestly up to show payrolls rose by 33,000 instead of the previously reported 20,000.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.1% in March, after jumping 0.4% percent in the previous month, while unemployment rate held steady at 3.8%.

The report adds to fairly upbeat construction spending and factory numbers that led Wall Street banks to boost their growth estimates for the first quarter.

“A mixed but overall very solid jobs report. The healthy bounce back in hiring last month should help to quell recession fears,” said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington.

“Still, weaker wage growth suggests the Fed’s December rate hike may have been its last in the current cycle.”

The Federal Reserve last month suspended its three-year campaign to tighten monetary policy, increasing market expectations of an interest rate cut.

However, the latest job numbers gave traders little reason to reprice expectations for a rate cut in 2020.

Also adding to the upbeat mood was President Donald Trump’s comments that the U.S. and China were close to a trade deal that could be announced within four weeks, potentially easing concerns about a months-long tariff war that has clouded global growth.

Trade hopes and a dovish Fed have helped push the S&P 500 to its highest since Oct. 9, putting the index less than 2% away from an all-time high of 2,940.91 points.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch said the index would scale new highs above 3,000 in the second quarter, fueled by gains in bank and oil stocks, before peaking out.

At 8:55 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 90 points, or 0.34%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 7.5 points, or 0.26% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 28.75 points, or 0.38%.

Among stocks, Intel Corp slipped 0.9% after Wells Fargo downgraded the chipmaker’s stock to “market perform” from “outperform”.

Viacom Inc rose 2.5% after RBC Capital Markets upgraded the company to “outperform”.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc climbed 3.6% after Morgan Stanley upgraded the company’s shares to “equal-weight” from “underweight,” saying that the emergence of activist investors will create upside for the stock in the near term. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Richard Leong in New York; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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