ADP Employment Report Shows Job Losses Slowing

The Labor Department will release its unemployment numbers Friday.

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Ahead of the Labor Department's Friday report, another standard gauge of unemployment indicates that job numbers fell less than expected in April—one piece of good news as Wall Street readies itself for more economic revelations later in the week.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, released today, employment in the private sector slumped by 491,000 jobs last month. Economists had been expecting a decline closer to 650,000. In March, the ADP reported that 708,000 jobs were lost.

The report looks only at private-sector jobs, so it's not as thorough as the data that the government will release. Still, investors have been watching the ADP's data increasingly closely. Now, assessing both the numbers and the report's forecast that unemployment will continue to rise but at a slower rate, traders are feeling a bit more optimism.

The boost in Wall Street's confidence comes in advance not only of the Labor Department report but of the results of the "stress tests" that the government performed on the nation's 19 largest banks. Those results will be put out late tomorrow, and some leaks have already pointed to the expectation that several of the banks, including Bank of America and Citigroup, will need more capital.

The ADP report may be promising. But as the rest of the week could be a rocky ride, investors—and taxpayers—can't quite yet breathe a sigh of relief.