After initially tumbling in the aftermath of the U.S. missile attack on Syria which jolted financial markets, boosting haven assets and temporarily shifting investor focus from today's jobs data , S&P futures have managed to recoup all losses (the Nikkei closed up 0.4% after sliding earlier in the session), with Europe also just fractionally lower and climbing fast.
It's not obvious how the market escapes this nervous mood ahead of Friday's payroll data, but if we end up with an even longer period of range-bound US yields then ultimately, the urge to find yield will overpower other market emotions. It's mostly a question of biding time this week however.
If wages disappoint for the second month in a row, then markets may begin to ease back their hiking expectations for the rest of the year. For markets to price out a rate hike in March, wage growth would probably need to slow markedly and the headline NFP number to fall well below 100K.
Despite ADP's blowout print this week, consensus January payrolls is 175k (somewhat below the 6- and 12-month averages), but Goldman Sachs expects a higher 200k print thanks to a combination of lower-than-usual year-end layoffs, favorable weather effects, and further improvement in labor market indicators.
Markets will again zero in on the U.S. this week, and not just because of Donald Trump. The Federal Reserve meeting and nonfarm payrolls may set a clear direction for dollar and yields for the next few months. Other key releases include ISM, ADP, housing data, personal income & spending, vehicle sales and core PCE.
A series of stronger than expected data in recent days pushed Goldman Sachs to up their payrolls growth expectation to 200k (above the 180k expectations), but they note that while the unemployment rate is likely to drop (to 4.8%), average hourly earnings may disappoint. Of course, they add, any non-narrative-confirming misses on the data can likely be explained away by "weather effects and residual seasonality."
"Nothing happens without a good reason in these speeches, especially as far as monetary policy signals are concerned. The phrasing “case…has strengthened” was blunt language for a Fed Chair, which would have been unnecessary if she was only trying to convey a general sense that rates would be moving higher over time. There are plenty of other opportunities to prepare markets for a move before the December meeting."
August Non-farm Payrolls have been weaker than consensus expectations in each of the last 5 years and in 14 of the last 18 years of available data. However, with all eyes focused on how Janet will see it, Goldman notes that it is possible that Fed officials would look through moderate weakness given 1) the strength of the June/July payroll gain, 2) their sub-100k estimate of the “breakeven” payroll gain, and 3) the well-publicized tendency for weak first prints in August.
Overall, the “mixed signals” backdrop that has been in evidence for quite some time continues to prevail. And yet, we can see that a number of data points remain quite weak or are deteriorating further (particularly RGPDI). Strong payrolls data are not a reliable indicator of future economic growth – and considering that money supply growth remains at more than 8% y/y, current economic data look actually exceptionally poor (normally more pronounced boom conditions would be expected). Any slowdown in credit growth will quickly sink the good ship US economy.
Last week, when details of Japan's "massive" JPY28 trillion stimulus plan emerged, we pointed out the "minor" snag that assured the plan would be a disappointment: only about JPY7 trillion of this amount would be in the form of new spending. Overnight, Japan finally revealed the full plan, and as expected it was met with significant disappointment by the market, which sent the Yen soaring to new multi-week highs and saw Japanese bond yields surging .