Well that was unexpected - US jobless rate rises for the first time in months but non-farm payroll beats expectations

Emma Haslett
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The figure showed an unexpectedly high rise last month (Source: Getty)

The US jobless rate rose in March, the first time since May 2015 it has done so - but the number of job openings beat expectations.

Unemployment edged back up to five per cent, having dropped to 4.9 per cent last month, while the number of job openings hit 215,000, against forecasts of 205,000.

That follows an unexpectedly large rise in February, when the non-farm payroll figure rose to 242,000, against expectations of 195,000.

The dollar spiked against the pound on the news, rising 0.47 per cent to 69.96p.

Although the figure is often seen as informing the Federal Reserve's interest rate decisions, some analysts suggested it may have less of an effect after a dovish speech by Fed chair Janet Yellen this week.

"Given Yellen’s speech... I wonder just how important this month’s payroll numbers will prove to be," said David Morrison, senior market strategist at Spreadco.

"After all, Yellen has told us everything we need to know about the outlook for monetary policy for the next six months. Effectively she slapped down all those regional Federal Reserve presidents who last week were calling for an April rate hike. Even June now looks like a long shot. Instead the odds have shortened on September and December as being possible windows for monetary tightening."

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