The February US jobs numbers are not expected to differ substantially from those registered in the recent months, although the market experts participating in the forecast report suggest that they will rather be somewhat lower.

NFP

This time the range of predictions is relatively narrow: between 110K and 200K jobs added. Alexandra Estiot who sees the US labor market growing by 180-200K in February justifies her optimistic forecast by saying that "in late 2012, some signs of strengthening were already obvious, with non-farm private payrolls growing by more than 200k a month" and that "leading indicators are pointing to a strengthening of that trend, with employment components of ISM surveys at historical highs." She nevertheless warns about the effects of the automatic budget cuts which after being implemented might harm the labor market.

Other analysts, who expect more modest jobs gains in the range of 130K-170K, are also worried about the impact of the sequester and some suspect that the steady growth trend might be coming to an end. Steve Ruffley points to a similar situation in the corresponding period of last year: "We have seen a steady decrease in 2013 from the NFP highs of 247K to last month’s figure of 157K; this mirrors the start of 2012 where the NFP went from 259K to 154K."

Should the reading prove better than expected "it could cause short-term positive reaction in the stocks market," as Talal Abdullah suggests and adds that "the uptick in NFP should increase the appeal for the U.S. dollar, as it raises the outlook for growth."

US NFP numbers for February will be released on March 8 at 13:30 GMT.

13 market experts took part in the forecast
191-210KMauricio Carillo
171-190KAlexandra Estiot, Valeria Bednarik, Brian Kahn
151-170KAdam Narczewski, Gus Farrow
131-150KDavid Pegler, Joseph Trevisani, Talal Abdullah, Steve Ruffley
110-130KMark De La Paz, Dale J Pinkert, Alberto Muñoz

Below you will find the complete commentaries of some of the contributing experts.

Alexandra Estiot - Senior Economist at BNP Paribas:

Alexandra Estiot"If the US economy was only about the private sector, I would be highly confident that 2013 will see a marked acceleration in GDP growth and thus job creations. Most of the headwinds that prevented a sharp rebound following the 2008-09 recession have abated. In late 2012, some signs of strengthening were already obvious, with non-farm private payrolls growing by more than 200k a month. Leading indicators are pointing to a strengthening of that trend, with employment components of ISM surveys at historical highs. But forecasting the US economy is also about the effect of fiscal policy, which is all about uncertainty. Right now, it looks like the sequester will be implemented. The direct impact is not to be felt by the labour market report before April, and it is likely to be smoothed. As for indirect effects, they could be lasting and painful if not easy to estimate. Disruptions that will come from the furlough of civil servants will damage the good functioning of the overall economy, which is likely to translate into lower production and demand. As for February data, I do expect a rebound in non-farm payrolls monthly increase in the vicinity of 180k-200k. But spring will be about uncertainty. Once more…"

Steve Ruffley - Consultant Trading Educator at InterTrader.com:

Steve Ruffley"I am still surprised by the strength of the S&P and that the markets in general are happy to remain buying dips. One thing we know about the markets however is that what goes up must come down. If we go back basics and look at trends in the actual NFP data then it looks like the ‘up’ trend is at an end. We have seen a steady decrease in 2013 from the NFP highs of 247K to last month’s figure of 157K; this mirrors the start of 2012 where the NFP went from 259K to 154K. If you look at the data technically then we are at a good level of support and we are trending just below a 200 day MA. Fundamentally we have seen both good news and bad news in the global economy and personally I don’t see any bias, so I can only take a view technically and I predict the NFP to be 130K with a range of 110K on the low to 165K on the high."

Talal Abdullah - Financial Analyst at ICN.com:

Talal Abdullah "Focus remains on the U.S. economy as Obama's administration is about to face another 'Automatic Spending Cuts' again.

U.S. Non-Farm Payrolls are expected to show the economy managed to add 130 - 160,000 jobs during February. It could cause short-term positive reaction in the stocks market if it is better than expected. The uptick in NFP should increase the appeal for the U.S. dollar, as it raises the outlook for growth. Nonetheless, unemployment is expected to stay unchanged at 7.9% as discouraged workers return to the labor force.

Unemployment stays elevated, negative jobs figures shall feed hopes that the Federal Reserve will keep monetary easing to help the economy; easing early exit woes."

Brian Kahn - Owner of Jupiter Peak Financial, LLC:

Brian Kahn"I feel that the next few monthly employment data sets could be positive as we have seen the 4 week average for initial claims continue to drop. BUT, we may start leveling out after that or GASP! decrease the number of new jobs created. NFP forecast 180K."


Mark De La Paz - Instructor at FX Instructor:

Mark De La Paz"US businesses are already showing anxiety over the looming sequester. For the February employment situation report we face downside risks particularly from defense sector jobs though should we fall through the impact will be largely felt in the March figures when cuts could translate to unforeseen private job losses and less spending by American consumers dragging the broader economy further into contraction. NFP forecast 120,000."

Adam Narczewski - Financial Analyst at X-Trade Brokers, XTB:

Adam Narczewski "The labor market in the U.S has been showing stability in the last couple of months and I expect this trend to remain unchanged. I believe the NFP reading will be in the 150K – 175K range for February. Despite the stable figures, the market will be sensitive to what numbers are announced. The recent FOMC meeting minutes revealed more members are in favor of a sooner decrease of QE. Any data proving the economy is doing better (a better than expected NFP reading), could cause another appreciation round of the USD. Only much weaker macro data could convince investors that the Fed will need to keep QE unchanged for longer than till the end of this year."

Yohay Elam - Analyst at Forex Crunch:

Yohay Elam "Non-Farm Payrolls figures have been rather stable in recent months, but this time could be slightly lower than normal. This is the first month were the impact of the expiration of the payroll tax cut kicks in, and this could have some impact on job growth. A gain of 130K rather than around 150K seen beforehand could be seen. All in all, the US economy continues growing slowly, and this tax issue is probably only a minor bump on the long road. The unemployment rate is likely to remain at the current levels. The unemployment rate is a reflection of the participation rate and not a reflection of the economy at the moment, as the changes in jobs are not huge."

Bill Hubard - Chief Economist at Markets.com:

Bill Hubard"Jobless claims have been gyrating in recent months, but after swinging sharply in the negative direction in the latest week they now show a slight worsening on a survey week to survey week comparison in February, and we expect a negative turn in the weather will be a negative for job growth this month. Non-farm payrolls rose 157,000 in January. Private payrolls rose 166,000 in the month, and government jobs were down 9,000, but our initial forecast for February non-farm payrolls is ‘only’ +125,000, and with NO change in the jobless rate at 7.9%."

Alberto Muñoz - Forex Analyst at FXstreet.com:

Alberto Muñoz "US Non Farm Payrolls will remain inside the 0-200K range and despite the economy is still creating jobs, the numbers aren't strong enough as to confirm a definitive change in the US labor market trend. It's very likely that given the recent changes in Non Farm Payrolls, the outcome will be around 120-130K."


Valeria Bednarik - Chief Analyst with FXstreet.com:

"Non farm Payrolls, may take the background this month, as market is largely more concerned by European situation and the US sequester. If the US falls in the automatic spending cuts, the employment numbers will become irrelevant, as the longer term outlook with turn gloomy. Still, I expect a limited improvement in this month reading, something around 190K. A decrease in the unemployment rate seems unlikely, so I would expect it to remain in between 7.8% - 7.9%"