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Week Ahead: April Jobs Numbers Could Portend Fed’s Moves on Rates

The U.S. jobs number for April will be the headliner economic event of the week.

The U.S. economy is expected to have added 200,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in April, slowing slightly after two months of strong growth. Nonfarm payrolls added 215,000 jobs in March and 245,000 in February.

"As U.S. growth momentum continues to slow, the fallout is expected to begin showing up in labor market activity with employment growth slowing in April," TD Securities analysts wrote in a note. "The unemployment rate should hold at 5% as a further influx into the labor force offset the gains in household employment, while wage growth should post a solid gain."

The labor report will take on added significance as it is scrutinized for what it might mean for the Federal Reserve and the timeline of the central bank's planned interest rate hikes. The Fed recently left its federal funds rate unchanged following its April meeting and will meet again on June 14-15.

The chances of a June rate hike are slim with futures only pricing in a 15% probability, according to CME Group. The meeting in December is the only one investors have priced...