After a busy and volatile week that included the end of Fed Chair Powell’s hawkish tone and mega-cap tech earnings disappointments, Wall Street should not have been surprised that today’s employment report would rattle markets. An impressive nonfarm payroll report was quickly followed by a report that showed the service sector is refusing to break. US stocks are dropping as investors realize the bearish move love with Treasury yields is over as the Fed may have to deliver a couple more rate hikes.
The disinflation process may have begun, but a strong labor market may prove troubling for bets for inflation to continue to drop quickly. Investors expecting that the Fed will cut rates at the end of the year might be in for a rude awakening. We won’t see linear moves with inflation trends and that should make it unlikely for inflation to be at low enough levels to justify rate cuts.
Wall Street is showing its true colors today. After three disappointing mega-cap tech earnings, investors are not giving up on Apple. Apple’s results were disappointing with service businesses being the one bright spot. It looks like traders are going to rationalize the story on Apple as China’s slump weighed on their results and that should dramatically improve. I think everyone is getting more upbeat with supply constraints and the current macro environment and are giving Apple a mulligan with this earnings miss.
This employment report shocked many investors as what was supposed to be a slowing economy saw broad-based job growth across leisure and hospitality, health care and professional services. The 517,000 jobs number reminded traders this economy is not yet slowing down. The unemployment rate ticked lower to 3.4%, the lowest levels since 1969. Everyone was expecting the economy to start to feel the impact of those earlier rate increases, but right now that doesn’t seem to be the case.
The ISM services index also provided a monster number with a surge back into expansion territory. Recession calls vanished after this one-two punch of strong economic data supported the Fed to keep going with those ongoing rate increases. This round of data is pouring cold water over those rate cut bets at the end of the year.
Energy traders were puzzled today. Oil prices initially headed higher after an impressive jobs report was followed by a massive rebound with the ISM services reading. Recession doubts quickly vanished as this economy was showing signs it will not break.
The crude price rally however did not last as some traders thought a strong labor market will complicate what the Fed does and keep the risk of much more aggressive tightening on the table. The reversal with oil prices led to the reversal over what happened with stocks. The short-term crude demand outlook should be looking a bit healthier, so this weakness might not last much longer. Brent crude does not belong below the $80 level as the global economic outlook looks like it will be ok for the rest of the quarter.
This gold rally was fun while it lasted. Questions about when the Fed will be done with tightening won’t be going away anytime soon. Gold’s rally was boosted as yields plunged on hopes that the Fed was almost done with tightening. It looks like recession calls for at the end of the third quarter might be too early. Gold didn’t entirely lose its bull case but it could be vulnerable to some further short-term pressure. Next week will be critical to follow Fed speak as we might get a little more fight in how high they may take rates.
It is rather shocking to see how little crypto is moving considering all the volatility across fixed income, stocks, FX and commodities. An impressive jobs report is driving rate hike calls and pouring cold water on those rate cut bets for the end of the year. Bitcoin seems content hanging around the $23,000 level and that should be viewed as good news for crypto traders. With yields likely to continue to rise, Bitcoin might struggle taking out $25,000 level over the short-term.
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