Markets brace for key US job report

Morning Note

Today’s big event is the release of the US nonfarm payrolls report tracking American labour market strength.

July was a bumper month for payrolls with 845,000 new jobs added to the US economy. Is sustained labour market recovery on the way? There remains about a 6.8 million gap in employment numbers needing to be filled to bring up to pre-pandemic levels.

What’s interesting is that economists are presenting a very mixed outlook regarding today’s report. Estimates are varying wildly. The Delta COVID-19 variant has shaken things up in the US over the past month. Cases have spiralled and are heading towards 100,000 per day – higher than in summer 2020 at the pandemic’s height. Like it has for the wider economy, the Delta variant is the same for the job’s market.

Wall Street forecasts are so different it’s hard to gauge what the report’s actual outcome will be at this stage. At the lowest end, estimates clock in at 350,000, accounting for holes in the jobs sector created by the Delta variant. Top-end estimates go as high as 1.2 million.

The unemployment rate is expected to fall from 5.9% to 5.7% on today’s NFP print.

Jerome Powell and the Fed will be watching this metric very closely. The health of the US jobs market is one of the conditions the Fed considers when looking at any alterations to its bond-buying programme.

The Dow Jones, S&P 500, and NASDAQ were all trending slightly down as they wait for the NFP release this afternoon.

European stocks start today with a muted tone too. The FTSE 100, in particular, has dropped roughly 10 points, hitting 7,109. CAC 40 was down 6 points at 6,757, and the Stoxx 50 showed similar performance, falling 6 points to 4,156. Nothing too much to worry about, but a broadly even trend across Europe. Germany’s DAX was in the green, but by rising 2 points, it’s essentially flat.

GBP/USD heads back towards the 1.920 level this morning, down roughly 0.6% on the day. A stronger dollar is making gains against the pound, explaining the pairing’s reversal. The dollar index made gains this morning as it reached 92.36, or roughly 0.07% up in day trading.

Oil prices made some gains back after falling yesterday. WTI, however, is still trading below $70 at $69.56 after starting the week around the $73 level. Brent futures are currently trading at $71.83 after showing similar pullbacks to WTI.