NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The U.S. added 321,000 jobs in November, the Labor Department said Friday, the most since January 2012. That far exceeded estimates of a gain of 230,000 jobs and came in higher than October's 214,000 total. The unemployment rate remained at 5.8%, as expected.
Stock futures were mixed as investors feared the unparalleled strength in the job market might push the Federal Reserve to raise rates sooner than hoped.
"The Fed is not going to raise rates unless they see wages continuing to rise," said Prudential Financial market strategist Quincy Krosby in a call. "It's not going to be one report. They're going to want to see a series of it to make certain it's a trend, not a one-off."
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 were moving in and out of positive territory following the release of the jobs data. Nasdaq futures rose slightly.
European markets were rallying as German factory orders in October rose a better-than-expected 2.5%. The DAX added 1.5%, while France's CAC 40 surged 1.4%.
However, Germany's Bundesbank cut its growth forecasts for the next year to 1%, half of a previous estimate. "The German economy lost considerable momentum in the second and third quarters of 2014 and moved onto a flatter growth path," Germany's central bank said in a statement.
Among individual movers before the bell, Gap (GPS) increased 3.2% after comparable sales in November rose 6% to $1.7 billion. The previous month saw a 3% drop.
Big Lots (BIG) slipped 5.1% in premarket trading following a quarterly loss of 6 cents a share, a penny wider than estimated.
Beauty supplies store Ulta Salon (ULTA) popped 6.1% as quarterly revenue surged more than 20%, while American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) declined 6.6% after guiding for below-consensus earnings this quarter.
-- Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.