March's jobs report was a just-right brew for stocks, strong enough to show an improved hiring picture but soft enough to keep the Fed from moving quicker to reduce monetary stimulus.
But that didn't stop the market from selling off after the report, which disappointed traders' high hopes for a sharp spring back in hiring and was well below Wall Street whisper numbers.
Nonfarm payrolls for March totaled 192,000, slightly below 200,000 forecast, and the unemployment rate was 6.7 percent, above the expected 6.6 percent. However, revisions to January and February showed stronger job growth, with January higher by 15,000 to 144,000 and February at 197,000, better by 22,000 jobs, the Labor Department said Friday.
The payroll number misses the mark for traders who thought the report would be far better, with whisper numbers at 220,000 to as high as 250,000.
"I just think the overall jobs number was not far from expectations at all, and if people were betting on a real bullish number for equities, they're trimming," said Patrick Boyle, a trader with BTIG.