NEW YORK, April 1 — US equity indices edged higher early today following a solid US jobs report for March that was seen as likely to keep the Federal Reserve on track to lift interest rates.

The United States added 431,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate fell to 3.6 per cent.

While payroll growth was slightly below analysts’ forecasts, the unemployment rate dipped more than expected, bringing the labour market closer to where it was before the Covid-19 pandemic began.

“The data show the labour market still has strong positive momentum and is making rapid progress towards pre-pandemic health,” said Rubeela Farooqi, an economist at High Frequency Economics, adding that she expects the Fed to enact a half-point rate hike interest rate hike in May.

“Today was another solid report, that really highlighting the ongoing positive momentum from the labour market. It does not seem like there was any meaningful impact from the geopolitical uncertainty in Ukraine,” said Angelo Kourkafas, investment strategist at Edward Jones, who shared Farooqi’s view on the likely May Federal Reserve policy.

About 30 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.2 per cent at 34,740.09.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.1 per cent to 4,533.45, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index was flat at 14,219.04. — AFP