US jobs, factory data point to steady economic growth
WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - United States (US) employment grew modestly in January and job gains in the previous two months were larger than first reported, a counterpunch to recent data that suggested a tepid economic recovery had stalled at the end of last year.
Adding to that optimism, separate reports on Friday showed factory activity hit a nine-month high in January as new orders rebounded, while car and truck sales surged and consumer confidence perked.
The reports, which helped propel US stock markets to their highest levels in more than five years, contrasted markedly with a government report earlier in the week that said the economy shrank unexpectedly in the final months of 2012, albeit for what most economists consider fleeting reasons.
"It is clear that the economy has a forward momentum. Most pistons in the economic engine are firing, pointing to sustained economic growth," said Mr Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University Channel Islands.