- Job growth slows in March, but trend still strong. The economy added 103,000 jobs in March as some weather-related factors that boosted job growth in February unwound. The number was well below consensus expectations of 185,000 and a slowdown from February’s upwardly revised 326,000. However, some slowing was expected after February’s unusually strong number, and we believe the slowdown is still largely attributable to temporary factors, which can be difficult to gauge from month to month. The two-month average of over 200,000 remains strong for this point in the economic cycle and leaves the overall trend of solid jobs growth intact. Wage growth, a data point market participants have been paying close attention to in recent months, was in line with expectations at 2.7% year over year, a slight acceleration over February’s 2.6%. Even with the slowdown, the jobs report confirms the overall picture of solid economic growth, with little in the new numbers to push the Federal Reserve (Fed) to move faster than its projected three rate hikes in 2018. We will be watching for any comments Fed Chair Jerome Powell may have on the report in a scheduled afternoon speech on the economic outlook.
- President Trump ratchets up tough trade rhetoric. Last night the president escalated the war of words with China by announcing that his administration would consider tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese goods (on top of the $50 billion previously announced). Chinese leaders then responded with strong words of their own, including the phrase, “at any cost” when speaking about defending the country’s interests. This latest salvo in the escalating “tit-for-tat” is likely just a tougher negotiating stance, but has increased the likelihood of additional market disruptions in the coming weeks. While the timing of this latest news was a bit of a surprise, and U.S. stock futures fell about 1% overnight in response, we continue to expect negotiations to win out in the end. Interestingly, China does not buy enough U.S. goods to retaliate in kind, sparking concerns that they may reduce U.S. Treasury holdings or find another creative way to fire back after announcing potential tariffs on the rest of its imports from the United States. Bottom line, market volatility is likely to stay with us for a while longer.
- Change in Non-farm, Private & Manufacturing Payrolls (Mar)
- Unemployment Rate (Mar)
- Average Hourly Earnings (Mar)
- Average Weekly Hours (Mar)
- Labor Force Participation & Underemployment Rates (Mar)
- Consumer Credit (Feb)
- Germany: Industrial Production (Feb)
- Japan: Leading Index (Feb)
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