Despite coronavirus jitters permeating the markets throughout the month of February, U.S. companies kept adding jobs as private payrolls expanded beyond Wall Street’s forecasts. Employment outside of government jobs ticked higher by 183,000 in February, according to Moody’s Analytics, which beat the 155,000 that economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected.

Not too shabby for the job market, especially with 93,455 coronavirus cases confirmed worldwide, including 3,198 deaths. Even after the worst week in Wall Street since the financial crisis, employers were resilient and HR departments were busy processing new hires.

“COVID-19 will need to break through the job market firewall if it is to do significant damage to the economy,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said in a statement. “The firewall has some cracks, but judging by the February employment gain it should be strong enough to weather most scenarios.”

However, it could be too early to tell and the impact of the virus could show up in later months’ data.

“I haven’t seen anything to indicate that there’s any impact on the labor market at this point in time,” he said on an episode of CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

In addition to the rise in February, countering that increase was revision to January’s number, which fell from an initially reported 291,000 down to 209,000. Nonetheless, it was still better than Wall Street estimates, but essentially erased what would have been its biggest monthly gain in nearly five years.

As for February’s numbers, here’s the sectors that hired the most:

  • Service industries: added 172,000
  • Education and health services: added 46,000
  • Leisure and hospitality: added 44,000
  • Business and professional services: added 38,000
  • Trade, transportation and utilities: added 31,000

Trading US Equities Strength

Does the latest hiring trend exhibit strength for U.S. equities ahead? This creates an opportunity for investors to capitalize on the Direxion FTSE Russell US Over International ETF (NYSEArca: RWUI).

RWUI offers investors the ability to benefit not only from domestic U.S. markets potentially performing well but from their outperformance compared to international markets.

  • Seeks investment results, before fees and expenses, that track the Russell 1000®/FTSE All-World ex-US 150/50 Net Spread Index (the “index”).
  • The fund, under normal circumstances, invests at least 80% of its net assets (plus borrowing for investment purposes) in securities that comprise the Long Component of the index or shares of ETFs on the Long Component of the index.
  • The index measures the performance of a portfolio that has 150% long exposure to the Russell 1000® Index (the “Long Component”) and 50% short exposure to the FTSE All-World ex-US Index (the “Short Component”).

For more relative market trends, visit our Relative Value Channel.