Dismal jobs data won't alter Fed's taper, Goldman says
The Federal Reserve should continue to taper its bond-buying program. despite the weak December employment report released Friday, Goldman Sachs' chief economist told CNBC on Friday.
Cold weather accounted for about 50,000 lost jobs in December, while the economy added 74,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent, Jan Hatzius said.
Analysts had expected to see 200,000 new jobs. The report needed to clear a "high hurdle" to derail the Fed's plan to scale down its asset purchases, Hatzius said.
Last month, the Fed announced that it would taper its $85 billion monthly asset-purchasing by $10 billion in January and continue unwinding the program through 2014.
Hatzius said he expects another $10 billion reduction in February, adding that only an unemployment rate increase and much weaker household survey data could have forced the Fed to change course.
"You would have had that discussion in a little more in earnest," he said on "Squawk on the Street."
(Read more: Weak job participation rips the housing recovery)
Further, Hatzius said, the employment rate could hit 6.5 the next two months—the threshold that outgoing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke set last year as a baseline for lowering interest rates, only to back off from the number in December.
"There is more uncertainty than normal," Hatzius said. "They need to tell us a little more about the employment thresholds."
(Read more: Job growth weak, raising questions about Fed move)
But Diane Swonk, the chief economist at Mesirow Financial, said the Fed should take the report with a "grain of salt," adding that the central bank could delay changes to taper plans until its March meeting.
"There's no question about that," Swonk said on "Squawk on the Street." "It does make it a little more difficult to continue tapering and there's a chance they might punt to Janet Yellen's meeting in March. The bottom line is this number adds more confusion than clarity, and it's inconsistent with everything else we've gotten on the economy."
Investors, on the other hand, should look for chances to take risks and increase exposure as the markets consolidate, and remain prepared to "buy the dips," Thomas Lee, JPMorgan's chief U.S. equity strategist, told CNBC.
If anything, he said, the dismal jobs number reminds Fed officials that low interest rates are a tailwind for the economy.
"It''s a disappointing report," Lee said on "Squawk on the Street." "I don't view it as a change in trend or the economy sort of apexing. It's important for investors to keep in mind a couple of things: One is that central bankers are really pro-growth."
Hatzius agreed with Lee's long-term outlook.
"It is a weak report," he said. "However, you look at all the other indicators that are coming in, and those are quite consistent with the idea that the economy is accelerating."
—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street." The Associated Press contributed to this report.