A tentative start to trading on Friday as we wrap up another action-packed week with the US jobs report in a couple of hours. Jerome Powell’s comments on Wednesday made clear the direction of travel that Fed policymakers are keen to undertake but ultimately, the data must allow for it. So far, that has very much happened with inflation falling more than anticipated in October, the manufacturing sector softening, supply chains improving and labour market performing less well.
US nonfarm payrolls expected to fall to 200K
Today’s jobs report will offer further insight into whether this last point continues to be the case. Jobs growth around 200,000 would continue the trend since earlier this year and, alongside rising jobless claims, point to a cooling in the labour market. But it’s the wages that the Fed cares most about. A moderation in earnings growth is essential to get policymakers on board and perhaps even bring down the terminal rate over the coming months. It’s not just about putting inflation on a better trajectory, it’s about ensuring it can return to target on a sustainable basis and that requires earnings to rise at a more modest rate to ensure inflation doesn’t become entrenched.
Considering the data we’ve seen since the last meeting, it would take something truly shocking for the Fed to change course now, I feel. And perhaps even that would need to be backed up by a nasty shock from the inflation data a day before they announce their next rate decision. Of course, at this point, the terminal rate is what matters most so an encouraging report today would be very welcomed and could see markets end the week on a high.
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