NEW YORK (Reuters) - The pace of job creation by private employers in the United States accelerated more than expected in February, according to a report by payroll processor ADP.
The private sector added 216,000 jobs last month, the ADP National Employment Report showed, topping economists' expectations for a gain of 208,000.
January's payrolls figures were revised up to an increase of 173,000 from 170,000.
U.S. stock index futures added to gains immediately after the data, while treasuries prices held steady at lower levels.
The ADP figures come ahead of the government's more comprehensive labour market report on March 9, which includes both public and private sector employment.
"This does suggest we are moving in the right direction," said Beth Ann Bovino, senior U.S. economist at Standard & Poor's Ratings Services in New York.
"It supports the expectations of another 200,000-plus in Friday's payroll report. The jobs numbers are looking healthier."
Economists polled by Reuters are expecting Friday's report to show a gain of 210,000 in overall non-farm payrolls, with the addition of 225,000 jobs in the private sector.
Economists often refer to the ADP report to fine-tune their expectations for the payroll numbers, though it is not always accurate in predicting the outcome.
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