U.S. private sector job losses accelerated in February, according to a report by ADP Employer Services on Wednesday that came in worse than economists' expectations.
It was the biggest job loss since the report's launch in 2001.
Economists had expected 610,000 private-sector job cuts in February, according to the median of 23 forecasts in a Reuters poll.
The forecasts in the poll ranged widely from a drop of 730,000 to losses of 500,000.
I was actually expecting it to be a little worse. Every month we've had data come in worse than expected, said Dan Faretta, senior market strategist at Lind-Waldock in Chicago.
Until we get positive news about housing or industry or anything like that, the numbers will continue to get worse. The numbers keep weighing on all the markets.
On Wall Street, stocks futures held onto earlier gains, suggesting the major indexes will open higher. Government bonds, which generally benefit from weak economic data, extended their losses.
The ADP release comes ahead of Friday's non-farm payrolls report from the government, which gives a more comprehensive picture of the labor market.
Economists expect the payrolls report to show the economy shed 648,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent from 7.6 percent.
(Additional Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Tom Hals)