There are signs of some momentum in the US economy as private-sector employers stepped up hiring in December.
They added 215,000 jobs. That was comfortably above economists’ expectation of a gain of 133,000.
At the same time there was increase in the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits, though holidays meant the numbers were estimated from a number of states.
The US government is expected to report on Friday that employers added 150,000 jobs to their payrolls in December, little changed from 146,000 in November, according to a Reuters survey of economists. The jobless rate is seen holding at 7.7 percent.
Job gains in the first 11 months of last year averaged about 151,000 per month, not enough to significantly lower unemployment.