U.S. non-farm payrolls are always the single most important data release in the economic calendar, but with global markets in thrall to the Federal Reserve's plans to slow its asset purchases, Friday's release has all the more reason to grab center stage.
The consensus forecast is for a solid increase of 165,000 jobs in June after 175,000 in May. That would be broadly consistent – depending on other economic data – with the schedule for tapering off quantitative easing that Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, laid out at his recent press conference.
Recent economic reports have been mixed, however, making a disappointment somewhat more likely than a number well ahead of forecasts. Gennadiy Goldberg at TD Securities in New York expects the pace of employment growth to have dipped to 161,000.
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"Even though this will mark a small pullback from the performance in May, it will underscore the continued improvement in economic growth momentum," he said.
Goldman Sachs is more pessimistic. Jan Hatzius, chief economist at the investment bank in New York, wrote in his preview: "We expect a fairly lacklustre employment report for June, with non-farm payroll growth of 150,000, similar to the average of the past three months."