Be prepared for another turbulent day on the stock market, after the much-anticipated monthly payrolls report from the U.S. Labor Department missed expectations by a mile.
Economists had been forecasting a drop of 175,000 jobs in September - with some fears that the number could be a little worse, given the disappointing initial jobless claims reported on Thursday.
The number, however, was a lot worse: Employers shed 263,000 jobs last month, up from a revised payrolls reduction of 201,000 jobs in August and a clear sign that the U.S. employment picture remains dismal.
The unemployment rate rose to 9.8 per cent, up from 9.7 per cent in August - in line with expectations, but nonetheless at a troublesome 26-year high.
Staying consistent with other disappointing economics reports this week, investors are not taking this one lightly. U.S. stock index futures were down sharply with about 55 minutes before markets open, suggesting that stocks will fall at the start of trading. Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average were down 100 points. Futures for the broader S&P 500 were down 12 points.
Both indexes were hit hard on Thursday, with the S&P 500 falling 2.6 per cent after initial jobless claims for last week were higher than expected and a reading of manufacturing activity fell month over month, also missing expectations.
In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was down 1.4 per cent and Germany's DAX index was down 1.6 per cent in afternoon trading. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 2.5 per cent in overnight trading.
Canadian markets are likely to follow suit, after the S&P/TSX composite index fell 2.8 per cent in Thursday trading. This is partly because commodity prices remained weak on Friday morning, with crude oil falling to $68.95 (U.S.) a barrel, down $1.87. Gold fell to $992.85 an ounce, down $6.35.