Week ahead: Nonfarm payrolls take the spotlight

It’s all about major economic movers this week. The US jobs report for August is released on Friday, while we kick off the week with the latest Chinese manufacturing PMI numbers. OPEC and allies are due to hold meetings too, making it a busy week for the global economy. 

The US jobs market has taken us to abyssal lows and new dizzying growth heights across the past 18 months. The pandemic has certainly taken its toll, but we’ve seen new life flow through the US’ economic veins too with more workers filling job gaps. 

Just take last month’s nonfarm payrolls. July’s data saw an expectation-smashing 943,000 new jobs added to the economy.  

Friday is when August’s job data is published. Markets of course will be looking at it closely. It’s the big release of the month, after all. But this week’s job’s report takes on a new character given trends we’ve seen in 2021. 

For instance, April’s nonfarm payrolls stood at 785,000 new roles, registering a month-on-month increase of over 200,000. But in May, the NFP report shrank by over 500,000 to 269,000. 

June and July showed consecutive growth months, but it’s important to not get too carried away. We’ve previously seen a bumper report give way to stunted growth in the following month fairly recently.  

The Federal Reserve has explicitly tied policy decisions to labour market health, so this report will be of particular interest in the wake of last week’s Jackson Hole symposium. 

As the start of another month brings another US jobs report so too does it bring another set of OPEC+ meetings. 

Last week WTI and Brent benchmark dropped to 3-month lows, though they have since staged a bit of a rally with Brent crossing over the $70 threshold and WTI pushing over $67. 

Changing demand expectations have weighed on crude prices. Key importers have introduced travel restrictions or new lockdowns. Some Chinese oil ports, for example, have been shuttered as Delta-variant COVID-19 cases rise. 

But OPEC+ has so far stuck to its guns. It’s still committed to upping production by some 400,000 bpd per month from August onwards. It also saw no reason to push those numbers high at the urging of President Biden. For now, 400,000 bpd per month is the level. 

It’s important to reiterate everything OPEC and its allies have done this year has been to support oil prices. With COVID-19 cases mounting worldwide, the supply/demand tightrope the cartel is walking may have narrowed but OPEC+ is likely banking on vaccine rollout to help pick up the slack. 

We all know oil is a key ingredient in economic growth in our current fossil-fuel based worldwide economic system. China is the world’s largest importer of crude, so the nation’s manufacturing output falls under intense scrutiny – especially in the light of potentially lower oil imports in the past couple of months. 

We may be able to see the effects of less oil and a surge in Delta-variant cases across the past month in August’s manufacturing PMI reading. 

July’s reading of 50.4 was the lowest reading for 15 months. June’s 51.3 was a slight bump on May’s 51.0, but the trend seems to be factory output is slowing in the world’s second-largest economy.  

Shutting ports isn’t going to do factory output any favours. Neither will current high commodity prices. Labour shortages and higher input costs have factored into slowdowns in UK and US manufacturing too. This isn’t a localised Chinese phenomenon.  

A PMI reading above indicates that there is still growth, but we’re seeing China perilously close to slipping under that. Tuesday’s PMI release will reveal all. 

Major economic events 

Date  Time (GMT+1)  Asset  Event 
Mon 30-Aug  3.00pm  USD  US Pending House Sales 
       
Tue 31-Aug  2.00am  CNH  Manufacturing PMI 
  1.30pm  CAD  GDP m/m 
  2.45pm  USD  Chicago PMI 
  3.00pm  USD  CB Consumer Confidence 
       
Wed 01-Sep  ALL DAY  OIL  OPEC Meetings 
  ALL DAY  OIL  OPEC-JMMC Meetings 
  2.30am  AUD   GDP m/m 
  8.55am  EUR  German Final Manufacturing PMI 
  1.15pm  USD  ADP Nonfarm Employment Change 
  3.00pm  USD  ISM Manufacturing PMI  
  3.30pm  OIL  US Crude Oil Inventories 
       
Thu 02-Sep  3.30pm  GAS  US Natural Gas Inventories 
       
Fri 03-Sep  1.30pm  USD  US Nonfarm Payrolls 
  1.30pm  USD  Average Hourly Earnings 
  1.30pm  USD  Unemployment Rate 
  3.00pm  USD  ISM Services PMI 
  Tentative  GBP  Monetary Policy Report Hearings