The devil is in the details of the US employment report

Too much job creation risked putting more upward pressure on interest rates; too little risked undermining confidence in US growth. In either case, the risk that US stock markets would react negatively to this month’s employment report were significant. With stock market indices just barely above their end-March low points and with 10-year interest rate seemingly ready to break through the 3% barrier, the importance of this month’s employment report was greater than usual.

As usually happens in this type of situation, everyone sees what he or she wants to see. One or two additional data points, such as April inflation or oil prices, are probably needed to tip the scales in one direction or the other over the next few days. But one thing is certain: it’s getting complicated.

Lire la suite…

The kind of US employment report we like!

The reflation scenario that markets have been hoping for since mid-December is very sensitive. It needs just enough growth but not too much inflation, because this would run the risk of a sudden change in monetary policy. And the high valuations prevailing on the world’s stock and bond markets would probably not survive such a change. Last month’s employment report was rather negative in this regard, with a relatively mediocre rate of new job creation accompanied by an acceleration in wages. Although modest, this movement toward higher wages convinced many market observers that there was an increased risk that the Fed would raise its rates quicker than expected (for more on this topic, please see Slightly more jobs and wages in the USA, but much more risk for the bond market, dated February 2).

Today’s report was much better, maybe even good enough to suggest the dawn of a more virtuous phase of the US business cycle.

Lire la suite…