Crazy market loves this 'OK' jobs data: Economist

Eyeing September rate hike: Pro
Eyeing September rate hike: Pro   

The Federal Reserve is unlikely to raise its benchmark interest rate in June because last week's jobs report did not provide enough evidence that wages growth is picking up—and the U.S. market loves that, UBS Investment Research's chief U.S. economist said Monday.

"This is a crazy market where if you have really strong economic numbers that would suggest that the Fed tightening would be imminent, the market would sell off," Maury Harris said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "Give them sort of OK numbers, and they love it."

After the April jobs report was released Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 1.49 percent on the day, and the S&P 500 jumped 1.35 percent.

While job growth in April came in roughly in line with analyst expectations, hourly wages rose just 0.1 percent and were revised down 0.2 percent in March.

Harris sees wage inflation gathering steam, noting that the four-week average for first-time claims for unemployment insurance is at its lowest since 2000.

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"It tells me that you're going to see wage pressures pick up, that when unemployment claims are that low, that's a forward indicator," he said.

The Fed has fallen behind the curve because it must be scrupulous when it comes to determining whether the economy is strong enough to sustain an interest-rate increase, Harris said. While that lag can lead to problems because monetary policy must play catch up, he does not see foresee problems in the current tightening cycle.

The central bank has held interest rates near zero since December 2008 in a bid to encourage lending and stimulate economic growth.

Based on current interest rate levels, the U.S. market is fairly valued, but there are sectors that look expensive for relatively low growth, said Monica DiCenso, JPMorgan Private Bank's head of U.S. equity strategy.

"There's a reason people are willing to pay a premium for stability and high yields," she said on "Squawk Box." However, when she looks at companies that have headwinds from a stronger dollar and low growth, it is hard to pay a multiple in the high teens, she said.

"I'd much rather pay for what I think is better growth in other sectors, like consumer discretionary, where we've actually seen acceleration in growth, or health care," she said.

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DiCenso said she also likes technology stocks, but investors must pick equities carefully.

"Tech is one of those controversial sectors, right? People are always going to point to those seemingly very high multiples, which look high until the growth actually happens, and so you need to be very choosy," she said.

While 2014 was a year for growth tech stocks, this year, value tech looks attractive, she said.

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