Economists expected nonfarm payroll growth to hit 233,000 in July, down from 288,000 in June, and unemployment to fall to 6.0 percent from 6.1 percent.
Big gains in new orders and employment sent U.S. manufacturing to a 3 year high last month.
The not-too-fast, not-too-slow employment report helped drive an improvement in stock market sentiment early Friday.
Consumer sentiment edged down, while an index of consumer expectations weakened for a third straight month, a new survey showed.
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