Markets did not wince after receiving the March Employment Report on Friday, despite a top line gain in employment for the month (98k) that was significantly below consensus expectations (175k). In fact, equity market trading did not appear to reflect any investor concern about either the jobs miss or Trump’s military action taken against Syria earlier in the week as all three majors closed the session Friday only fractionally lower.The Dow Industrials slipped 0.03% while the S&P 500 and NASDAQ ticked 0.08% and 0.02% lower respectively. Given the magnitude of the top line miss and given the stronger than expected ADP report released earlier in the week, it would not have been at all surprising to see at least some weakness in Friday’s trade. It did not materialize.
Any potential weakness that could potentially have materialized in equity markets on Friday was offset by several factors, including the detailed data within the report. The unemployment rate dropped to 4.5%, a 10-year low. More importantly from a monetary policy perspective, the Labor Force Participation Rate remained unchanged at 63%, Average Hourly Earnings ticked higher by 0.2% for the month and by 2.7% on a year-over-year basis. All four data points continue to suggest that labor market conditions are both continuing to tighten modestly and that incremental wage inflation is a factor in the employment landscape. Broadly speaking, the report augers for a continuation of the monetary policy framework that the Federal Reserve and FOMC have outlined in recent meetings.
Globally reaction was a different story as reported by Nichola Saminather and Wayne Cole for Reuters:
SYDNEY, April 7 Bonds, gold and the yen jumped in Asia on Friday, while stocks retreated, as investors fled to safe assets after the United States launched cruise missiles against an airbase in Syria, raising the risk of confrontation with Russia and Iran.
The U.S. dollar dropped as much as 0.6 percent, while gold and oil prices rallied hard, though the early market panic ebbed when a U.S. official called the attack a “one-off”, with no plans for escalation.
“The unexpected and unequivocal nature of the U.S. response to the sarin-centric carnage in Syria by President Trump was very much in keeping with his promise not to telegraph his military options to the world in advance of taking action,” wrote Peter Kenny, senior strategist at Global Markets Advisory Group in New York”.
What’s ahead for crude, financials and the economic calendar:
Another factor that helped provide support to equity markets last week came as a result of the ongoing rebound in crude prices. Certainly to a degree, President Trump’s strategic military strike against Syrian military assets did fuel some buying in the space in recent days but the reversal off recent lows was set in place in the previous week. Potential continued buoyancy in crude prices will be subject to several factors including the outcome of the OPEC and non-OPEC production talks in coming weeks. Meantime, investors will be keeping a close eye on the EIA Petroleum Status report due out on Wednesday morning.
This week investors will be looking forward to the launch of Q1 earnings season. Highlighting this week’s earnings calendar will be financials. On Thursday, JP Morgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo will all release Q1 results. Other noteworthy results this week include Delta Airlines and Taiwan Semiconductor.
This week’s economic calendar will provide further insight into how the broader economy fared in Q1. On Monday we receive Labor Market Conditions for March and on Tuesday the NFIB report. Wednesday’s data will be headlined by Import & Export Prices (c. -0.2%), Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations and the EIA Petroleum Status Report. Thursday, Weekly Jobless Claims, PPI-FD (c. 0.0%). Friday markets are closed in observance of Good Friday/Easter but we will still receive CPI (c. 0.0%), Retail Sales (0.0%) and Business Inventories (c. 0.3%).