The positive job growth reported Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has some financial industry executives prepped for more good times ahead with a large caveat: the effects of the coronavirus.

The job growth of 225,000 for January exceeded expectations and means job growth has now averaged more than 200,000 per month for the last three months. January numbers probably were boosted by warm winter weather, which allowed construction work to continue.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 225,000 in January, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 3.6%, according to the bureau. Notable job gains occurred in construction, in health care and in transportation and warehousing.

Andy Feltus, co-head of high yield at Amundi Pioneer, which has $90 billion in AUM, said the current numbers put the United States in a good place for this year.

“The only number that is a little soft is the wage number,” Feltus said Friday in an interview with Financial Advisor. “Wages are moving up slowly, but they have not taken that next big step.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wage growth picked up a bit in January, as it has for much of the past decade-long expansion, but the acceleration was small. Average hourly earnings were up 3.1% from a year earlier after being up and down around that point in 2019.

The uncertainty added to the mix right now is the coronavirus, Feltus said. “Commodities seem to be buying the theory that the effects of the virus are really bad, while equities have not reflected that yet. We won’t know for sure for a week when workers in China could go back to work.”

If China remains on lockdown, he added, it would be a negative for the world economy, and the first reaction for nervous investors is to invest in Treasurys.

But “one month into the year, the economy seems to be playing out just as we thought it would,” he said.

Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, said shortly before the new numbers were released that positive reports would “be one more piece of evidence that the slowdown at the end of last year may be passing. Other [good] job numbers would also support that idea.”

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