‘Not What the Market Wants:’ Payroll Data Is Too Hot for Comfort

(Bloomberg) -- The return to robust growth in the U.S. job market was viewed with trepidation in equity futures, where traders worried the Federal Reserve has less reason to lower interest rates.

September contracts on the S&P 500 slipped as much as 0.5% after settling Wednesday at a record high. Strategists and investors said they weren’t sure if addition of 224,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls would change Chairman Jerome Powell’s thinking on stimulus.

‘Not What the Market Wants:’ Payroll Data Is Too Hot for Comfort

Here’s a roundup:

  • Delores Rubin, a senior equity trader at Deutsche Bank Wealth Management

One “immediate reaction was a July cut is off the table, but the futures reaction is showing this is not what the market wants. The real question is are there any other data points between now and the Fed meeting that show enough signs of weakness that allows the Fed to be comfortable with a rate cut. I suspect the fact that we are coming off of the 4th of July holiday on a Friday that not as many investors are around which will make today’s moves more exaggerated.”

  • Lindsay Bernum, head of macro at Smith Capital Investors

“It’s one of those tricky things because the market was pricing in Fed cuts so there can be two reactions: one, that this allows the Fed to have the option of remaining on hold and not cutting in July. At times, that could be negative for risk assets, but overall that could be a short-term movement as the market does need to reprice Fed cuts. Overall, the strong foundation that the U.S. still remains in via employment, the consumer and getting through some of the temporary disruptions we’ve had overall should be a positive for risk assets. There might be a temporary hiccup as the market reprices but a strong foundation should be good for risk assets.”

  • Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Financial Group

“Let’s be honest people, this spike to record highs in stocks has been all about the hopes for easing, easing, easing because the economic data over the past few weeks has been weak. While jobs data is a lagging indicator and should not be taken as an all clear signal at all, it might certainly hold off and push out the easing, easing, easing.”

  • Tony Bedikian, managing director and head of global markets at Citizens Bank

“Today’s jobs report shows the U.S. economy continues to create jobs at a strong pace even as we enter the longest period of economic expansion on record. The bounce back in the June jobs number may splash cold water on the notion of an imminent Fed rate cut. We will have to see whether the equity markets can shrug that off when balanced against other macroeconomic factors, such as the hope of a China trade truce.”

  • Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial Inc.

“This leads to questions as to whether or not the Fed will be as committed to rate cuts at the July meeting. Chairman Powell goes up to Capitol Hill for his testimony, he’s obviously going to be asked about monetary policy. The question is, will he begin to walk back his comments that led the market to believe in a 100% chance of a rate cut later this year. The Fed fund futures will pull back a little bit.”

  • Dennis Debusschere, head of portfolio strategy at Evercore ISI

“This continues the cross-current scenario that the Fed has to deal with. A bigger question is, they have to untangle how much of the other economic data releases that were weaker -- and we saw a few -- had to do with trade, and not the state of the economy. Pretty much the best payroll number you would ask for, within reason, from a risk asset point of view, i.e., labor market strong, yet nothing within the number suggest the Fed should change course from the easing bias.”

More coverage of the U.S. jobs report

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