US nonfarm payrolls miss the mark for the second consecutive month

Another weak jobs report shows job growth starting to stale in the world’s largest economy.

Nonfarm payrolls

US economy added 194,000 jobs in September

US jobs growth slowed two months in a row according to today’s nonfarm payrolls report.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 194,000 in September, falling way below the Dow Jones estimate of 500,000. The latest stats from the US Labour Department create a more pessimistic picture about the US economy than first thought.

A large drop off in government employment may be behind this latest jobs miss. Government payrolls showed a 123,000 drop, although private payrolls increased by 317,000.

Despite the drop, the unemployment rate continues to edge lower. Today’s report puts it at 4.8%. The share of the labour market held by part-time workers working limited hours due to economic reasons fell to 8.5%.

There are a couple of other small positives to take away from this jobs report. For example, the Labour Force Participation Rate fell slightly to 61.6% from 61.7%. Average hourly earnings rose 4.6% on a year-by-year basis, in line with expectations.

Leisure and hospitality was once more the report’s saving grace. 74,000 new roles were created in this sector in September. Professional and business services contributed 60,000 new positions while retail added an additional 56,000.

Markets show mixed reactions to weak nonfarm payrolls print

Dow Jones futures initially stayed fairly flat when the jobs report landed. S&P 500 futures were rose 0.2%. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.58%. The 10-year Treasury yield was around 1.57%.

The Dollar Index dropped slightly, losing 0.15%, staying at around the 94.15 level.

Gold futures were up 1.44%, pushing the precious metal to $1,781.

Perhaps the most important reaction to gauge will the Federal Reserve. The Fed always watches jobs data with an eagle eye, but it’s taken on renewed importance with tapering talk fresh in the air.

The US’s Central Bank has indicated it is ready to start scaling back its massive financial stimulus. Markets expected first tapering to be announced in November at the earliest. Inflation has already soared past the Fed’s 2% target, so it makes sense.

But the jobs market is still a hot button topic for Fed council members. Officials have said they still see the labour sector way below full employment levels. As such, no rate hikes are expected to come this year. Market analysts say a hike is most likely to come in November 2022.

Mixed start for European equities ahead of NFP

Morning Note

Mixed start in Europe after another positive session on Wall Street as the US Senate approved raising the debt ceiling until December. Treasury yields are higher, with the 10yr hitting 1.6%, which may cool megacap tech’s recovery. All eyes today on the nonfarm payrolls report and what this means for the Fed and tapering. 

 

Whilst European bourses are mainly in the red the FTSE 100 is trying to break above 7,100, but as noted yesterday there is moving average congestion to clear out the way just underneath this and it’s still firmly within the range of the last 6 months. The S&P 500 was up 0.83% on Thursday and has now recovered a chunk of the Monday gap and is now just 3% or so off its all-time high. Momentum just flipping in favour of bulls (we note bullish MACD crossover for futures) – has the supply chain-stagflation worry peaked? Maybe, but rising rates could undermine the big weighted tech sector in the near-term and it is unclear whether there is enough appetite among investors to go more overweight cyclicals when the macro outlook still seems somewhat cloudy in terms of growth, policy and inflation. Next week is earnings season so we either get more bullish conference calls for the coming quarters or a bit of sandbagging re supply chain issues, inflation – for the index a lot will depend on whether the C-suite is confident or cautious about their outlooks.

 

Inflation nation: We can keep banging on about inflation, but it’s well understood now. Even the Bank of England has woken up – BoE chief economist Pill warned that inflation looks to be more persistent than originally anticipated. UK inflation expectations have hit 4% for the first time since 2008 – soaring gas and fuel bills not helping. “The rise in wholesale gas prices threatens to raise retail energy costs next year, sustaining CPI inflation rates above 4 per cent into 2022 second quarter.” said Pill. Tax hikes and labour shortages also featuring in the inflationary mix. There was a rumour doing the round yesterday that BoE’s Broadbent has “taken Nov off the table”. However, with inflation racing higher it’s clear the Bank should be acting to hike in Nov to get ahead. Markets currently pricing a first 25bps rate hike fully by Feb 2022, another 70bps by the end of that year. 

 

Nonfarm payrolls watch: US employers are expected to have added 490k jobs in September, up from 235k in August, which was a big miss on the forecast. NFPs are important and could be market moving later since the Fed has explicitly tied tapering + subsequent rates lift-off to the labour market. A weak number could just dissuade the Fed from announcing its taper in Nov, but I see this as a low-risk outcome. More likely is steady progress on jobs (ADP was strong on Wed) and the November taper announcement to follow. The persistence of inflation and rising fuel costs in particular has changed the equation for the Fed entirely. Benign inflation that we were used to is no longer to be counted on to provide cover for trying to juice the labour market. The problem is not demand side, it’s supply side. Central banks are seeing rising inflationary pressures that are proving more persistent than thought. Slowing economic growth and risks to the outlook stem from the supply side not the demand side – so pumping the demand side even further into a supply side crisis is not helping matters much. 

Monthly recap: German elections, hot UK inflation and NFP miss

We recap some of the key market movers from September in this monthly round-up. 

Monthly markets recap: September 2021

Germany waves goodbye to Angela Merkel in tight federal elections 

After sixteen years at the helm, Angela Merkel will step down as German Chancellor following late September’s closely contested German elections. 

It’s a hugely fragmented result. Pretty much all parties did worse than they thought. The SPD is the majority party, but they’re still very close to the CDU to really have a massive advantage. You could only separate them with a cigarette paper really.  

The Green’s, after topping the polls four months ago, came in third while the FDP came in fourth.  

Olaf Scholtz, the leader of the SPD, now has his work cut out trying to turn these close results into a working coalition. But what we’ve seen is what our political guru and Blonde Money CEO Helen Thomas calls a Code Red for Germany – that is a shift to the left with a bit of a green hint too. 

What the next German federal government looks like now is up for debate. The Green Party is probably going to be central, after doubling their Reichstag presence, but it’s out of the CDU and FDP to see who becomes the third coalition partner. See Helen Thomas’ election round-up below for more information. 

Nonfarm payrolls’ massive miss 

Nonfarm payrolls came in well below expectations in a wobbly US jobs report.  

In August, 275,000 new jobs were added to the US economy, falling far below the 750,000 forecast. 

The unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% while labour force participation stayed unchanged at 61.7%. Hourly earnings rose 0.6% in August, surpassing market predictions of a 0.3% rise. 

Jerome Powell and the Federal Reserve keeps a close eye on the jobs report. Labour market participation has been one of the key metrics the Fed has been looking at throughout the pandemic to decide on whether to start tapering economic support. 

We know that Jerome Powell and the Fed loves a strong jobs report. But we also know that tapering is on its way anyway – likely in November. August’s job data may not have impacted decision making too much, given the tapering signals were made long before its release.  

However, Fed Chair Powell still believes the US is still far from where he’d comfortably like employment to be. 

Speaking last week, Powell said: “What I said last week was that we had all but met the test for tapering. I made it clear that we are, in my view, a long way from meeting the test for maximum employment.” 

A recent survey taken by the National Association for Business Economics showed 67% of participating economists believed job levels won’t reach pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2022. 

UK inflation jumps 

August’s CPI data, released in September, showed UK inflation had reached 3.2%. That’s the highest level since 2012. 

Rising from 2% in July, the latest CPI print also showed a huge month-on-month rise in prices. Inflation soared well clear of the Bank of England’s 2% target – although the UK central bank did say it believed inflation would hit 4% in 2021. 

However, some market observers believe there is a risk that inflation will overshoot even the 4% level. 

The question is how will the BoE respond? A more hawkish tilt could be possible.  

Markets.com Chief Markets Analyst Neil Wilson said: “Unanchored inflation expectations are the worst possible outcome for a central bank they’ve been too slow to recognise the pandemic has completely changed the disinflationary world of 2008-2020. 

“My own view, for what it’s worth, is that the Bank, just like the Fed, has allowed inflation overshoots to allow for the recovery, but it’s been too slow and too generous. Much like the response to the pandemic itself, the medicine (QE, ZIRP) being administered may be doing more harm (inflation) than good (growth, jobs).” 

China intensifies its crypto crackdown 

Bitcoin was rocked towards the end of September after being hit with a body blow landed by the People’s Bank of China. 

The POBC has ruled that all cryptocurrency transactions in China are illegal. That includes all transactions made by Chinese citizens domestically and those coming from offshore and overseas exchanges. 

BTC lost over 8% and nearly dropped below the $40,000 mark on the news from Beijing. It has subsequently staged a comeback, but this latest move from China tells us a couple of important things about crypto. 

Number one: volatility is ridiculous. The fact that Bitcoin is still so susceptible to big swings on both positive and negative news shows it’s still very volatile. It seems hard to see a future driven by crypto right now if such price swings will be the norm. If this is the case, let’s hope it calms down in the future. 

Secondly, it’s that central banks are still wary of digital finance. In China’s case, it loves control.  

Beijing’s official stance is that cryptocurrency is a) illegitimate, b) an environmental disaster, and c) something it cannot control completely. Freeing finances from government oversight is the entire point of decentralised finance (DeFi) after all. In a country as centralised as China, that’s a no-go.  

China has pledged to step up its anti-crypto, anti-mining efforts further. This could cause major ripples for Bitcoin and the digital finance sector as a whole. A significant chunk of global token supply comes from Chinese miners. Someone else will have to pick up the slack. 

Oil & gas prices stage major rally 

A global gas shortage and tighter oil supplies pushed prices into overdrive towards the end of September. 

Natural gas, in particular, was flourishing. At one point, gas had climbed above $6.30, reaching highs not seen for three years. Basically, there’s not enough gas to go around. High demand from the UK and EU is pushing prices up, while the US, which is meant to be in injection season, is also suffering. Asian demand is also intensifying. 

In terms of oil, a supply squeeze coupled with higher demand caused by major economies reopening is putting a support under oil prices.  

Traders are also confident. Energy markets are the place to be right now. As such, trader activity appears to be pushing these new highs and is confident regarding the market’s overall strength. 

Goldman Sachs has also revised its oil price targets upwards. 

Goldman said: “While we have long held a bullish oil view, the current global oil supply-demand deficit is larger than we expected, with the recovery in global demand from the Delta impact even faster than our above-consensus forecast and with global supply remaining short of our below consensus forecasts. 

“The current oil supply-demand deficit is larger than we expected, with the recovery in global demand from the Delta impact even faster than our above-consensus forecast and with global supply remaining short of our below consensus forecasts.” 

Week Ahead: All eyes on US jobs report

Week Ahead

A busy week ahead for the markets with the US nonfarm payrolls as the marquee event, as well as two major central bank statements.

Let’s start with the latest US nonfarm payrolls print.

June’s reading performed way above expectations, and the markets will be watching closer than ever when the latest data is released on Friday.

850,000 payrolls were added to the US economy in June – way above the 720,000 forecast. This was also the sixth consecutive month where new additions were made.

However, the unemployment rate rose from 5.8% to 5.9% – higher than the predicted 5.6% rate forecast. Labour force participation, the go-to metric for gauging workforce shortages nationwide rate didn’t budge at 61.6%.

Hiring appears to have dipped a little overall throughout the spring. There are a couple of reasons for this: virus fears; childcare costs; better unemployment insurance; stimulus & furlough schemes. However, it’s been reported that firms have upped wages in order to entice workers into taking new positions.

The employment rate is also an important measure for Fed Chairman Jerome Powell when assessing stimulus and support levels for the US economy.

We know Powell and co. are relatively comfortable about letting the economy run hot, even in the face of rising inflation. As Powell pointed out at the last Fed meeting, there remains a gap of 7.5 million jobs missing from the US economy, although some reports suggest the figure is 6.8m. Until these open positions are filled, expected more Fed stimulus and support.

In terms of indices, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq responded very well to last month’s bumper jobs report, reaching new record highs. Indices traders will be hoping for more of the same with July’s print.

Sticking with US-related data, ISM, one of the key purchasing manager index reporters for the American economy, shares its manufacturing and services outlooks this week.

US manufacturing was still robust last month, according to ISM’s PMI report, but supply chain issues continue to inhibit growth. The factories printing was rated at 60.6 – down from the 61.2 score registered in May.

Momentum is still strong. Four out of the five subindexes rated by ISM showed high growth. Consumer interest in new goods is still high, despite rising prices. But labour shortages, coupled with the rising price of commodities and materials, has caused bottlenecks and shortages as manufacturers struggle to keep up with demand.

“Record-long raw-material lead times, wide-scale shortages of critical basic materials, rising commodities prices and difficulties in transporting products are continuing to affect all segments of the manufacturing economy,” said Timothy Fiore, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

The same can be said for the services sector: it expanded in June, but that expansion had softened compared with a best-ever May rating. In this case, the index fell from 63.5 to 60.1.

“The rate of expansion in the services sector remains strong, despite the slight pullback in the rate of growth from the previous month’s all-time high,” explained Chair of the ISM Services Business Survey Committee Anthony Nieves. “Challenges with materials shortages, inflation, logistics and employment resources continue to be an impediment to business conditions.”

Keeping that momentum going is all important for America’s economic health – especially as the US is expected to be the driving force behind the global economic recovery across the rest of this year and beyond.

Moving away from data, a pair of central bank statements are on the way next week.

Starting with the Bank of England, rising inflation is the big one here.

In June, inflation reached 2.5%, thanks to widespread increase in consumer goods. This could just be pent-up demand in the British economy finally being unleashed, but as inflation is now at its highest levels for three years, economists’ nerves may be tested.

Governor Bailey has already made his stance clear: the price jumps are only temporary, and we could see it run as high as 3% by the year’s end. It should then fall away back to acceptable levels after that. Currently, the BoE has a mandate to steer inflation towards 2% and keep it there.

However, Bailey has stated he would be ready to pitch rate hikes should inflation run out of this control.

The Reserve Bank of Australia also shares its latest policy thinking and direction this week.

Chances are, no big changes are coming. Governor Philip Lowe has been very clear that no rate hike will be forthcoming until at least 2024. That’s despite Australia’s strong economic fundamentals.

The historic low cash rate of 0.1% isn’t going anywhere. What’s interesting, however, is that July’s meeting led to some tweaks in Australia’s QE programme. The scale has been pulled back. From September onwards, the rate of RBA bond purchases will slow from AUD$5bn to AUD$4bn per week.

The groundwork for more tweaks to policy has been laid by Governor Lowe. Let’s see what this week’s meeting brings in terms of any small-scale changes.

We can’t finish a preview of the week’s key events without touching on US earnings season.

Week three of large cap earnings reports for Q2 2021 begins on Monday. It’s not as busy as the previous week’s reporting flurry, but we still have some significant reports coming in, namely Alibaba and Uber.

Check out our US earnings calendar for more information on which major firms are sharing earnings reports this week or see below.

Major economic data

Date Time (GMT+1) Asset Event
Mon 2-Aug 8.55am EUR German Final Manufacturing PMI
  3.00pm USD US ISM Manufacturing PMI
 
Tue 3-Aug 5.30am AUD RBA Rate Statement
  5.30am AUD Cash Statement
  11.45pm NZD Employment Change q/q
  11.45pm NZD Unemployment Rate
 
Wed 4-Aug 2.30am AUD Retail Sales m/m
  1.15pm USD ADP Nonfarm Employment Change
  3.00pm USD US ISM Services PMI
  3.30pm OIL US Crude Oil Inventories
 
Thu 5-Aug 12.00pm GBP Asset Purchase Facility
  12.00pm GBP BOE Monetary Policy Report
  12.00pm GBP MPC Asset Purchase Facility Votes
  12.00pm GBP Monetary Policy Summary
  12.00pm GBP MPC Official Bank Rate Votes
  12.00pm GBP Official Bank Rate
  3.30pm GAS US Natural Gas Inventories
 
Fri 6-Aug 2.30am AUD RBA Monetary Policy Statement
  1.30pm CAD Employment Change
  1.30pm CAD Unemployment Rate
  1.30pm USD Average Hourly Earnings q/q
  1.30pm USD Nonfarm Employment Change
  1.30pm USD Unemployment Rate

 

Key earnings data

Mon 2 Aug Tue 3 Aug Wed 4 Aug Thu 5 Aug
Arista Networks Alibaba General Motors Ball Corp
Activision Blizzard The Kraft Heinz Co Beyond Meat
Roku Inc Illumina
Uber Technologies Square Inc
The Trade Desk
Virgin Galactic Holdings

Week Ahead: NFPs, OPEC & PMIs

Week Ahead

OPEC+ meets this week against a backdrop of weaker oil prices. Nonfarm payroll data is released too. Will we see another strong month or is February’s surge a one-off? Meanwhile, the US and China square off in the manufacturing sphere with key PMI releases. Deliveroo, one of the UK’s most hotly anticipated IPOs, goes live too. 

OPEC+ meeting – more cuts or staying the course? 

Supporting oil prices throughout the lockdown and return normalcy has always been top of OPEC’s agenda. This will take on renewed importance in April’s meeting, as crude oil prices have dropped down from their $70 high over the past couple of weeks. 

At the time of writing, prices had risen off a six-week low despite the EIA reporting higher than expected storage volumes at US warehouses. WTI is trading about $60 with Brent at $63. 

Cuts are very likely to stay in place. OPEC and allies have taken 7% of pre-pandemic supply out of circulation, and chair Saudi Arabia has committed to a further 1m bpd cut. 

However, there is an EU-shaped spanner in the works.  

Vaccine rollout, or lack thereof, in Europe has also put pressure on oil prices. Politically motivated supply tussles, and now more questions around the AstraZeneca vaccine’s effectiveness, have all conspired to impact oil demand as speculators unwound long positions they had booked on higher summer travel demand. 

Vaccine uptake coupled with a fresh wave of new Covid-19 cases across Europe has resulted in tighter lockdowns. France and Germany, for example, have announced more restrictions, as has Poland. The UK has also said it has had to slow is own vaccine programme, one of the best in the world, due to vaccine supply pressure. 

For the second quarter of 2021, the EIA sees Brent prices averaging $64 per barrel and then averaging $58 a barrel in the second half of 2021, as it expects downward price pressures will emerge in the coming months as the oil market becomes more balanced.  

OPEC’s next move will be crucial if it wants to help support its members through better prices in 2021. 

US nonfarm payrolls – all eyes on labour market after February surge 

US nonfarm payrolls are released on Friday. Following February’s blowout month, the market will be watching March’s report intensely, hoping to pick up more signals that the US is quickly returning to economic health. 

 Payrolls surged 379,000 in February, smashing expectations of 210,000 and edging down the unemployment rate to 6.2%.  

The battered leisure and hospitality sector showed the lion’s share of new payrolls, with 355,000 added in February. While this encompasses cinemas, hotels, museums, resorts and amusement parts, it was food service that propped up the leisure and hospitality industry in terms of new jobs added, with 285,900. 

 Biden’s stimulus deal is likely supportive of new job creation. As part of the President’s $1.9 trillion  package, small businesses are receiving further support in order to a) support existing jobs and b) possibly lead to new hires or rehires. This includes: $25bn for restaurants and bars; $15bn for airlines and another $8bn for airports; $30bn for transit; $1.5bn for Amtrak and $3bn for aerospace manufacturing. 

Because of the stimulus package, other companies have halted lay off programmes. United Airlines, for instance, had scheduled 14,000 layoffs in February. According to a Washington Times report, this has been cancelled with extra government money flooding into United’s coffers. 

Local transport authorities, especially the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York, will be receiving billions, allowing them to protect jobs. New York will be receiving $6bn, for example, so it can stop layoffs and service cuts. 

Of course, this is mostly about protecting existing jobs. It will be interesting to see what effect that has on nonfarm payrolls for March. If SMEs are anticipating more government funds, that may then feed into increased payroll numbers, as their finances may allow recruitment to kick off again. 

US & China Manufacturing PMI 

The two global economic titans reveal their latest manufacturing PMI data in the week ahead. 

Starting with the US, we’ve already seen IHS Markit’s US manufacturing PMI for March, showing another strong month for the country’s factory output. This edged higher to 59 in March from 58.6 in February, implying  activity in the manufacturing sector continued to expand at a robust pace. This reading came in slightly lower than the market expectation of 59.3, but nothing to really fret about. 

We’re waiting for the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) PMI data in the week ahead. February’s was a blockbuster month for manufacturing, according to ISM, with the PMI reaching a three-year high of 60.8. If we take the IHS data as an indicator, then we’ll probably be looking at steady expansion, rather than another massive surge has seen in February. Still, encouraging signals for factory production levels throughout the US. 

The US’ economy has been in a healthier state since the new year. Stimulus put more money into consumers’ pockets, and we already know more is coming. Being able to pump that liquidity back into the economy may be why manufacturing is in such a good place. Vaccine rollout isn’t bad in the US either, which is also underpinning renewed confidence throughout the country. 

On the other hand, Chinese output slowed in February, according to the March release of the Caixin PMI, the country’s key factory productivity tracker. Could we see the slowdown continue in April? 

According to the last Caixin PMI, the index fell from January’s 51.5 reading to 50.9 in February – the lowest for 9 months. A reading above 50 still indicates growth, but the fact its dropping suggests a retraction. 

Why so? Domestic Covid-19 flair ups and slowing global demand for imported Chinese goods put a strain on China’s manufacturing centre. Factories also laid off workers and were in no hurry to fill their vacancies.  

Analysts still expect a strong year for China, as it was one of the few countries to show any real economic growth during 2020 at the height of the pandemic. However, February’s manufacturing slowdown highlights some fragility in the ongoing Chinese economic recovery. We’ll get a clearer picture when March’s PMI is released. 

Deliveroo IPO – save the date 

Deliveroo launches its IPO on March 31st, although unrestricted trading will not be available until April 7th 

Deliveroo has set a price range for its shares of between £3.90 and £4.60 per share, implying an estimated market capitalisation of between £7.6 billion and £8.8 billion.  

The company will issue 384,615,384 shares (excluding any over-allotment shares) and expects to raise £1bn from its IPO. Even at the lowest end of the range, it would be the largest listing in London for a decade and Europe’s largest this year.  

Amazon has a 15.8% stake in the company, but it plans to sell 23,302,240 shares for between £90.8 million and £107.2 million, depending on where the IPO prices. Chief executive and founder Will Shu will sell 6.7m shares, leaving him a remaining stake of 6.2% of the company, worth around £500m. 

Major economic data 

Date  Time (GMT)  Currency  Event 
Tue 30 Mar  3.00pm  USD  CB Consumer Confidence 
       
Wed 31 Mar  2.00am  CNH  Manufacturing PMI 
  1.15pm  USD  ADP Nonfarm Employment Change 
  1.30pm  CAD  GDP m/m 
  3.30pm  USD  US Crude Oil Inventories 
       
Thu 1 Apr  All Day  All  OPEC+ Meetings 
  3.00pm  USD  ISM Manufacturing PMI 
  3.30pm  USD  US Natural Gas Inventories 
       
Fri 2 Apr  1.30pm  USD  Average Hourly Earnings m/m 
  1.30pm  USD  Nonfarm Employment Change 
  1.30pm  USD  Unemployment Rate 

 

Key earnings data 

Date  Company  Event 
Mon 29 Mar  Sinopec  Q4 2020 Earnings 
     
Tue 30 Mar  Bank of China  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Carnival  Q1 2021 Earnings 
     
Wed 31 Mar  Micron  Q2 2021 Earnings 
  Walgreens  Q2 2021 Earnings 

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