NEW YORK -- U.S. companies added 200,000 jobs in July, topping economist expectations, in an encouraging sign for the labor market recovery, a report by a payrolls processor showed Wednesday.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast the ADP National Employment Report would show a gain of 180,000 jobs. June's private payrolls were revised up to an increase of 198,000 from the previously reported 188,000.
The ADP figures come ahead of the government's more comprehensive national labor market report on Friday, which includes both public and private-sector employment.
Economists often refer to the ADP report to fine-tune their expectations for the payrolls numbers, though it isn't always accurate in predicting the outcome. The report is jointly developed with Moody's Analytics.
Analysts were also trying to gauge what the figures might mean for the Federal Reserve's potential timeline for winding down its stimulus program. The U.S. central bank has laid out plans to start slowing its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases later this year if the economy progresses as expected.
"ADP clearly confirms the U.S. job engine is operating on all cylinders, slanting the odds toward, or at least putting the pressure on the Fed to taper sooner rather than later," said Boris Schlossberg, managing director at BK Asset Management in New York.
The Fed will release a statement Wednesday afternoon at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting.
Friday's payrolls report is expected to show a net 184,000 jobs were added in July, including 189,000 private jobs.
The euro fell against the dollar immediately following the ADP report, while Treasury prices widened losses. U.S. stock index futures, though, were little changed.