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U.S. Stock Futures Pare Declines After Jobs Data on Fed Bets

Sept. 5 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures pared declines after data showing employers added the fewest jobs this year in August fueled speculation the Federal Reserve won’t have to raise rates sooner than anticipated.

Futures on the S&P 500 expiring this month retreated 0.2 percent to 1,993.7 at 8:32 a.m. in New York.

The 142,000 advance in payrolls was weaker than the lowest estimate in a Bloomberg survey and followed a revised 212,000 gain in July, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent in July, reflecting a drop in joblessness among teenagers.

The Federal Reserve is gauging the strength of the labor market as it winds down a bond-buying program and considers the timing of raising interest rates. Policy officials led by Janet Yellen next meet Sept. 16-17.

Stagnant wage growth has been a concern for some Fed officials who view it as a symptom of significant labor-market slack. The value of compensation per hour has climbed by just 0.5 percent after inflation since 2009, marking the weakest wage growth since World War II, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by Bloomberg.

Increasing evidence that the economy is strengthening has fueled speculation the Fed may raise rates sooner than investors anticipate. Yellen has said the central bank will keep rates near record lows for a “considerable time” after bond purchases end.

Weak growth in Europe prompted the region’s central bank to step up stimulus measures yesterday.

The S&P 500 has slipped 0.3 percent in the past three days after ending last month at a record. The index gained 3.8 percent in August, the biggest increase since February, and topped 2,000 for the first time. The equities benchmark trades at 16.7 times its members’ projected earnings, near a 16.8 multiple reached last week that was its highest valuation since the end of 2009.

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