NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The U.S. Labor Department's jobs report for August comes out this Friday and will be the last piece of labor-market data the Fed receives before its September meeting, the Wall Street Journal reports. Strong numbers could encourage the Fed to hike interest rates.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC) - Get Report is looking for 180,000 added jobs for August, down from July's 255,000, the firm's senior North America economist Emanuella Enanajor said on BloombergTV's "Bloomberg Go" Monday morning. This would give a three-month average of 250,000 added positions, she said.
The jobs report probably needs a "much, much stronger" number to justify a September rate hike, but could encourage the Fed to hike rates at a meeting later this year, she explained.
"We think that kind of number would be justification for December," she said.
On other hand, the economy is in "decent shape" so the jobs report may not even matter, RBC Capital Markets chief U.S. market strategist Jonathan Golub argued.
"I don't know if it really matter," he said.
With the consumer price index (CPI) over 2% year-over-year and an unemployment rate under 5%, the Fed should raise interest rates this year, whether that's at its September meeting because of a strong jobs report or at its December meeting, he said.
"And the stock market will be totally cool with the move on the part of the Fed because ultimately it's the economy's success that's driving it, as opposed to the Fed that's forcing the issue," he noted.