Feb. 7 - The second straight month of weak U.S. job growth could pose a problem for the Fed, which is betting on an accelerating recovery as it cuts back bond purchases. Fred Katayama reports.
Job growth slowed again last month, adding to concerns that the U.S. recovery is losing momentum. The economy gained just 113,000 jobs - far fewer than economists had expected, and December's paltry number was barely revised higher. The retail sector shed jobs for the first time since March following a weak holiday shopping season. Another surprise: it appears cold weather last month can't be blamed as the culprit. One sign of that: the construction sector actually added jobs, as did manufacturing. The second straight month of weak job growth could pose a problem for the Fed, which is betting on an accelerating recovery as a reason to keep scaling back its bond purchases. Lenox Wealth Advisors chief investment officer David Carter said: "If the employment market continues to weaken, it is likely that the Fed will slow its tapering plans, which may help equities." On the plus side: the unemployment rate ticked lower to 6.6 percent, and more unemployed people looked for jobs. That gets the rate close to the 6.5 percent level that Fed officials see as a trigger to start talks over when to raise interest rates. So investors will closely watch what new Fed chief Janet Yellen says when she appears before Congress next week.