Markets welcome key U.S jobs update

World markets have welcomed a key jobs update from the United States showing the unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 7% - brushing aside fears that it could prove the spark for a massive programme of central bank support to start being pulled away.

World markets have welcomed a key jobs update from the United States.

The payroll data was closely watched from trading floors across the globe by investors anxious about its impact on the US Federal Reserve's monetary policy.

Low interest rates and a quantitative easing (QE) programme in which the Fed buys up billions of dollars worth of assets every month have helped nurse the world's biggest economy back to health.

It means traders have anxiously been fretting that good news on jobs translates as a signal that the Fed's monetary support will start to be pulled away - or "tapered".

The latest figures from Washington showed employers added 203,000 more jobs in November, ahead of consensus, lowering the jobless rate to 7% from its level of 7.3% in October.

But shares climbed on Wall Street and in the City as well as in Europe. Some analysts believe the data was seen as not quite good enough for the Fed to begin tapering its stimulus programme from this month, as had been feared with a better reading.

Spreadex trader David White said: "For months now analysts have been negative on data points that speak of an acceleration of economic activity and growth.

"But the market seems brave today, with the number coming in better than expected without being too strong. Indeed, the mild increase in jobs is another reason for earnings to improve."

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said the data added to the sense that the Fed would be "itching to pull the trigger" on narrowing QE or at least "fire a warning shot" that the time has come to start bringing policy slowly back to normal.

However, uncertainty about the damage done by a partial government shutdown this year - sparked by political divisions in Washington that also edged America close to a debt default - could persuade the Fed to wait and see, he added.