“Blockbuster,” Credit Suisse said. “Shines bright,” Nomura said. “Robust,” Barclays said. “Healthy,” UBS said. “Strong,” Goldman Sachs said. “Very strong,” Morgan Stanley said.
This is how Wall Street received the January US jobs report on Friday.
US companies added 257,000 nonfarm payrolls in January, which was stronger than the 228,000 expected by economists. Even better, the November and December payrolls numbers were revised up by a whopping 147,000, making November-January the best three-months of job gains in 17 years.
The unemployment rate climbed to 5.7% from 5.6% a month ago, but only because the number of Americans coming back into the labour force outpaced the high number of jobs created. This could be a sign of increasing confidence in the economy as people who once gave up on looking for work have decided now might be a good time to find a job.
Even wages rebound sharply after last month’s decline.
Average hourly earnings rose 0.5% month-on-month in January, the biggest jump in wages since November 2008.
The strength of the US economy relative to the rest of the world has been a big economic story. But is it sustainable?
Here’s your Monday Scouting Report:
Can This Last? “Though America is carrying the world economy at the moment, that is simply not sustainable,” Canadian Finance Minister Joe Oliver said on Friday. “The rest of the world cannot depend on the United States to be the sole engine of growth,” US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said.
US economic outperformance has been fun for the US. But with the rest of the world lagging, the rest of the world thinks something needs to be done to get the rest of the world growing at a more healthy clip. Global finance ministers and EU leaders will mull over this as they head to the G20 Summit in Istanbul and the European Council meeting in Latvia this week.
“There is a lot at stake,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said. “Without action, we could see the global economic supertanker continuing to be stuck in the shallow waters of sub-par growth and meager job creation.”
- Job Openings And Labour Turnover Survey (Tues): Economists estimate the JOLTS report to reveal that there were 4.948 million job openings in December, down from 4.972 million in November. From Credit Suisse: “Job openings rose in November to 5.0M driving the ratio of vacancies to unemployed workers up to 0.55 — above its pre-crisis average. Measures of job turnover, which tend to lead wage acceleration, slowed down for a second consecutive month after a sharp rise in September. The rate of job quits was unchanged in November and hiring rates declined slightly. However, both measures of turnover remain at elevated levels. Along with the recent rapid declines in the unemployment rate, these numbers confirm that the US labour market has effectively recovered to “normal” cyclical conditions.”
- Monthly Budget Statement (Wed): Economists estimate the US had a budget deficit of $US18.5 billion in January. From Morgan Stanley’s Ted Wieseman: “We estimate that the federal government ran a $US20 billion budget deficit in January up from $US10 billion a year ago, with receipts up 0.2% and outlays 3.5%. Weak growth in receipts and the overall widening in the budget deficit reflect tax refund season getting underway normally at the end of January this year after being delayed until February last year by the budget fight and government shutdown. With the much higher than expected $US45 billion bid at the recent spectrum auctions, the budget deficit in FY2015 we now estimate will fall below $US450 billion, only 2.5% of GDP, from $US483 billion, 2.8%, in 2014.”
- Retail Sales (Thurs): Economists estimate sales fell 0.5% in January due largely to falling energy prices. Excluding autos and gas, core sales are estimated to have increased by 0.4%. “Retail gasoline prices continued their slide in January and the money saved at the pump should help boost spending in other categories, in particular, discretionary spending categories,” Nomura economists said. “Continued improvement in consumer sentiment in recent months suggests that the underlying trend in sales should be robust. Therefore, we believe there is some upside risk to our January forecast and we would not be surprised if December’s low number is revised up.”
- Initial Jobless Claims (Thurs): Economists estimate the weekly jobless claims climbed to 288,000 from 278,000 a week ago. “With jobless claims averaging near a 15-year low over the last two weeks, the early read for February employment is very positive,” Deutsche Bank’s Joe LaVorgna said.
- U. Of Michigan Consumer Sentiment (Fri): Economists estimate this sentiment index climbed to 98.2 from 98.1 in January. “Employment gains have slowed a bit, but remain solid; while equities have been relatively flat,” BNP Paribas economists noted. “Declines in pump prices have boosted household income in general, but they flattened out a bit toward the end of January and continued to do so in February.”
Overall, Q4 earnings season has been a bit better than expected.
“With 323 companies in the S&P 500 reporting actual results for Q4 to date, the percentage of companies reporting actual EPS above estimates (78%) is above the 5-year average, while the percentage of companies reporting actual sales above estimates (59%) is equal to the 5-year average,” FactSet’s John Butters noted. “In aggregate, companies are surpassing earnings estimates by 4.0%.”
“A healthy earnings reporting season is supportive of our medium-term bullish view in equities,” JP Morgan’s Jan Loeys said.
For more insight about the middle market, visit mid-marketpulse.com.
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