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(Reuters) - Businesses added more than 200,000 jobs in March, giving fresh evidence of recovery in the labor market, data showed on Wednesday.
The ADP National Employment Report showed the private sector added 209,000 positions last month, slightly above economists' expectations for a gain of 200,000 jobs.
Analysts said it did not change their forecasts for the government's more comprehensive labor market report for March due on Friday, which includes both public and private sector employment.
Separate data showed a measure of employment in the vast U.S. services sector also rose last month, even though the pace of overall growth slowed. Analysts said the pullback was expected after the index ran up to a year high in February.
Anthony Chan, chief economist at JPMorgan Private Wealth Management, said some of the positive effects of the unusually warm weather at the beginning of the year could be starting to wear off but the easing in activity was not as deep as some had feared.
"That worst-case scenario where the economy would completely fall off a cliff and do a 'Thelma and Louise' is not happening," said Chan.
Overall, the day's data "tells us that the recovery continues uninterrupted," Chan said.
But the economic reports were overshadowed on Wall Street as investors were disappointed by the Federal Reserve's toned-down talk on further stimulus to encourage the recovery. U.S. stocks were down more than 1 percent in afternoon trading.
Federal Reserve policymakers backed away from the idea of launching a third round of monetary action as the recovery gradually improves, minutes from the U.S. central bank's last meeting showed on Tuesday.
Still, the Fed's assessment of the economy remained cautious. Economists expect growth to have slowed in the first quarter compared to the 3.0 percent annualized rate seen in the final months of last year.
For a graphic on ADP v. the U.S....