European stocks rally as US breaks for Labor Day holiday

Morning Note

European stock markets edged higher this morning towards the top of recent ranges at the start of what’s set to be a fairly quiet day as US markets are shut for the Labor Day holiday. Meanwhile, this week’s European Central Bank meeting looms in the near distance. Investors are still digesting the huge jobs report miss last Friday and what it means for the Federal Reserve’s plans to scale back its bond purchases. Stocks just about fell and the dollar was weaker in the wake of the report, whilst gold rallied. It was far from a straight line down for stocks though as large cap growth and tech helped the Nasdaq Composite to rally 0.21% whilst the Dow Jones fell by the same amount. 

 

This morning the main indices are heading higher by around half of one percent. The euro is lower against the dollar as the latter catches some bid in early trade. Data from Germany has been mixed, with factory orders +3.4% vs -0.7% expected, while the construction PMI slipped deeper into contraction territory at 44.6, a three-month low.

 

Stagflation: Friday’s US jobs report was bad, indicating growth rolling over and delta taking its toll on the reopening of the economy. With revisions to the last two months the net add was not as bad as the headline print, but it was nevertheless a poor signal for the US economy at this stage. Of note, employment in leisure and hospitality was unchanged, after increasing by an average of 350,000 per month over the prior 6 months. 

 

One jobs miss does not mean the economic recovery is in trouble, but it could foster a more cautious approach among the FOMC members, who could be apt to delay plans to taper asset purchases. Or rather they may prefer to wait and see how the data goes into November. Against the backdrop of warning consumer confidence and stalled jobs growth, the chances of the Fed announcing a taper of bond purchases at its September meeting have receded but does mean it won’t start later in the year.  The question is to what extent rising cases of the delta variant in the US hit the rebound. 

 

Looking ahead to this week, the Reserve Bank of Australia is in a pickle over its plans to taper asset purchases. Ongoing lockdowns make it likely the central bank will reverse its previously announced taper, leaving bond purchases at A$5bn a week.  

 

The ECB meanwhile is more likely to go the other way and could announce a slower rate of PEPP asset purchases. Inflation is running at 3% and chief economist Lane has suggested the central bank could be closer to tapering than the market assumed. Hawks have their tails up a bit more these days that the European economy is in relatively good shape, but they worry about inflation. Of note this week will be the latest inflation forecasts for the bloc, which are likely to be revised higher. 

 

Oil is weaker after Saudi Arabia cut selling prices for Asia, nudging WTI and Brent down by more than 1%. The kingdom said it would reduce October official selling prices for all grades exported to Asia by at least $1 a barrel.