The headline nonfarm payroll number was much weaker than expected and confused traders because it was so wide of the April 5 ADP release of 263,000, but the rest of the data was tepid though not weak enough to dissuade the FOMC from further efforts to raise rates. The important average hourly earnings was up 0.2%, in line with expectations, but the weekly hours worked slipped 0.1, which may have been in response to the early March storms. The unemployment rate dropped to a recovery low of 4.5% but that may be because of the amount of workers having left the labor force. The markets’ initial reaction to the headline NFP was the bonds rallied, the dollar weakened and the precious metals rose. By day’s end all the moves reversed from early rallies inspired by the U.S. missiles fired at Syria. The market had deemed the cruise missiles fired at the air force base in Syria as a market destabilizing event, spurring a purchase of what are deemed safe haven assets: GOLD, YEN, BONDS. But the end of day reversal nullified Syria as a one-off event. So the market is confused as to the genuine impact of the unemployment report and we will have to wait for more economic data to weigh all the “communication” coming from FED speakers. Chair Yellen will be speaking with a Q&A session on Monday afternoon so late market action should not be discounted.
Archive for the ‘data’ Category
The mid-day, market-moving announcement from FBI Director Comey resulted in the selloff of the DOLLAR, EQUITIES and RALLIES IN PRECIOUS METALS just after the market had enjoyed the better-than-expected first look at the third quarter GDP. I will try to make sense of both releases from a market stand point and in an APOLITICAL format.
The U.S. jobs report was in line with market expectations colored by the Wednesday release of the ADP data. The market’s response was interesting in that BONDS, STOCKS AND THE DOLLAR reversed some of the reaction to ECB President Mario Draghi’s press conference on Thursday. While the jobs report seemed to SOLIDIFY an FOMC rate hike next week, the settlements on Friday raises questions about the Fed’s current strategy. Even though a rate increase is a “certainty” and with the ECB promising more liquidity at lower interest rates, the settlement prices at the week’s end were perplexing:
Is it the first Friday of a new month already? If so, then it must be time for the release of the U.S. employment data and preparing for a day of market volatility driven by the machines of madness and their algorithmic masters. In preparation for the trading madness, it seems that the consensus is for a nonfarm payrolls increase of 192,000 jobs, a work week of 34.5 hours, and, most important for Chairman Yellen, an increase in average hourly earnings of 0.2%. It appears that a strong number will result in a higher probability of the FED raising rates at the December 15-16 FOMC meeting. It is the problem of dissecting what a STRONG EMPLOYMENT is that makes trading and investing so difficult for the next six weeks. Is it the number of jobs created and the impact on the unemployment rate that renders the most powerful argument for the Fed hawks? Or is it the level of wages relative to GDP and corporate profits that is the most significant indicator of job strength and possible inflation?
Today, CNBC‘s Steve Liesman interviewed San Fran Fed President John Williams. In a swipe at Fed gallows humor, President Williams presented Liesman with a T-Shirt that said the Fed was DATA DEPENDENT. The humor part was Williams’s effort to cut-off Steve Liesman’s well choreographed question which amounts to: “Come on, John, share your inside view about the possibility of a RATE RISE at the next FOMC meeting (just between us, John).” So as to make sure that Liesman understands the consistent answer: It is data dependent. If the FED wants to create some jobs it can send everyone with a bank account a free “Data Dependent” shirt, compliments of their regional Federal Reserve. All sarcasm aside, President Williams’s view puts added importance now to the inflation data on Friday and of course the retail sales input on Wednesday. The consensus on the CORE RETAIL SALES is 0.3% increase so a strong number would be above 0.6%. If the theory of data dependence holds then it should be the SHORT END of the curve that gets sold and here is my reasoning: The 2/10 and 5/30 parts of the yield curve have steepened dramatically during the last two months as the market accepts the fact that the recent bout of weak economic data has pushed the FED further away from raising rates.
Yes, except if the nonfarm payroll numbers comes in above 300,000 jobs created and/or average hourly earnings rise above 0.4%, reversing last month’s -0.2 %. Consensus is for payrolls to grow by 235,000 but that is in line with the average of the last six months so it will have to be a strong number to give some substance to the more hawkish voices on the FOMC Board. More importantly for Chair Yellen will be the wage growth for if wages lag job growth the Fed will be reticent to raise rates, especially in the face of a strong dollar or the euphemism of” international developments.” In my humble opinion, global financial conditions in the light of European instability will play a larger role in the Fed’s decision to raise rates, which is why I maintain it will take a large number to give voice to those Fed voters wishing to raise rates.
Tomorrow is a big day for disseminating information with market-moving potential. The market is bored with war, pestilence and famine so it must be FED pronouncements and GDP data that can provide a volatility boost. The markets did twitch today as the European Union and the U.S. both upgraded the sanctions against Putin’s Russia. It will be very difficult for Russian banks and large energy consortiums to raise dollar- and euro-based capital. Even with the advent of new and improved sanctions the global equity markets barely moved, especially as corporate earnings in the U.S. continued its string of “beats.” The counter to the continued strength of the equity markets is the behavior of the global debt markets as European sovereigns from Spain to Germany have reached record low yields. The U.S. yield curves continue to flatten as investors continue purchasing 10- and 30-year debt driving long-term yields lower. Again, I will state that while the curves are flattening the 2/10 U.S. curve is not historically flat.
I’ll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I’ll get all my paper and smile at the skyFor I know that the hypnotized never lie— The WHO
The ECB and The Bank of England delivered their interest rate announcements, and, as I expected on Tuesday, the result was absolutely no change to current policy. The FED had paved the way for maintaining the present course and the Europeans were certainly not willing to risk upsetting the markets. What surprised me was the fact that the EURO CURRENCY rallied strongly as President Draghi presided over a press conference in which he put on an act of stonewalling and obfuscation that made Alan Greenspan look like a freshman debater. Wow, Mr. Draghi can evade the best of questions and believe me I listened to the entire press conference and the questions were of a very high caliber. Mr. Draghi did invoke a new strategy and that was lengthening his answers so no one could remember what he had really said in the beginning. The bottom line is this:
No surprises from the ECB or the BOE in their interest rate decisions today. Yesterday I wrote that President Draghi would deliver a Gene Kelly-like press conference, dancing his way through the questions unscathed. I was wrong. Draghi tapped dance his way through the entire Q&A in Bojangles-like fashion. In far, it was so smooth he didn’t even look like he was dancing. (Combine Draghi and the big noise from New Jersey and it was a complete vaudeville show). President Draghi kept insisting that the ECB‘s mandate was inflation and he reminded his inquisitors that inflation cuts two ways and the ECB would be vigilant on any downturn to inflation, which could result in a deflationary spiral. In regards to the recent report of EU-wide inflation coming in at 0.8%, President Draghi assured that he would keep monetary policy on a continued policy of very low interest rates.