U.S. private-sector job losses slowed much more than expected in April, hitting their lowest since November last year, according to a report by ADP Employer Services on Wednesday.
ADP said private employers cut 491,000 jobs in April versus a revised 708,000 lost in March, originally reported as a loss of 742,000 jobs.
Economists expected 650,000 private-sector job cuts in April, according to a Reuters poll.
The report is the latest in a series of data suggesting the severe U.S. recession may be bottoming out, though it is too early to say recovery is underway.
This is one of many indicators that has suggested improvement, but it is volatile and is only one month. Too early to read anything further into it, said Subodh Kumar, chief investment strategist at Subodh Kumar & Associates in Toronto.
The data comes ahead of Friday's more comprehensive non-farm payrolls report by the government.
Economists expect Friday's payrolls report to show the economy shed 620,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate jumped to 8.9 percent from 8.5 percent.
U.S. stocks rose about 1 percent in opening trade, while U.S. government bonds extended their losses.
The coming months' data on job losses should resemble April's improved figures rather than the steeper cuts seen in recent months, said Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers.
Maybe improving gradually, but still fairly significant negative numbers, and I don't expect to see employment start rising really until sometime toward the end of the year, said Prakken, whose firm jointly developed the ADP Employer Services report.
He cautioned, however, that it was too early to conclude that the job market had made a decisive turn, though April's improvement was apparent broadly throughout the report.
One month's number does not a trend make, Prakken told a teleconference for journalists.
He added that he expected modest but below-trend economic growth in the second half of the year.
(Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe)