A weaker-than-expected employment report is set to hammer the market this morning. The Labor Department reported February U.S. nonfarm payrolls fell by 63,000 in February, the second straight decline in employment. It was the largest drop in payrolls since March 2003. Economists had forecast a gain of roughly 20,000. Adding to the pain, payrolls for December and January were revised down by 46,000.
However, the unemployment rate fell unexpectedly to 4.8% in February from 4.9%, due to a 450,000 decline in the labor force, the largest drop in nearly 5 years. Average hourly earnings rose 5 cents, or 0.3%, to $17.80 an hour.
At last check, S&P 500 futures are down more than 12 points and Nasdaq 100 futures have dropped 8 points just ahead of the open.