Trump Roils Jobs Day With Thumbs-Up Tweet Before Data Released
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump was briefed Thursday night about the monthly employment report issued Friday morning in Washington and signaled in advance that the numbers were going to be favorable, breaking with past practice of presidents who avoided disclosure of market-sensitive information.
“Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning,” the president tweeted at 7:21 a.m. in Washington.
The Department of Labor reported at 8:30 a.m. that unemployment in the U.S. had dropped to its lowest level since 1969 as the economy added a higher-than-expected 223,000 jobs in May.
Larry Kudlow, director of Trump’s National Economic Council, said in a brief interview that Trump had the numbers last night and his tweet wasn’t meant to signal a positive report. “I don’t think he gave anything away” in the tweet, Kudlow said in a separate interview with CNBC.
The breach of precedent is just the latest in a string of instances in which Trump has broken with normal presidential practice. Just this week, he pardoned Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative commentator convicted of breaking campaign finance law. Presidents usually hold off on controversial clemency decisions until their terms are nearly over.
Trump’s social-media post was met with tepid reaction in financial markets, where investors assess more than just the headline numbers. U.S. stocks jumped in early trading. After Trump’s tweet, the two-year Treasury yield climbed one basis point, while the dollar stayed flat.
Some White House officials get access to the monthly employment data the day before the report is released publicly, and the president is routinely briefed on the numbers on Thursday. Most jobs reports are released on the first Friday of each month. There are government procedures for officials who handle undisclosed numbers that require a delay of commenting until one hour after they’re released.
“They’re treated like state secrets,” Alan Krueger, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Obama administration, said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio before the employment report came out.
The jobs report also showed wage gains -- mediocre for years -- exceeded estimates, rising 2.7 percent from a year earlier.
“It doesn’t look good,” said Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com’s senior economic analyst. “As has been said so many times by the president’s supporters as well as his critics, this is another case where it would be better for President Trump would be wise to spend his time doing something other than tweeting.”
Omair Sharif, a senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale, said the tweet creates a conundrum for traders ahead of future jobs reports.
“I don’t know if people should object, but it adds a little extra uncertainty prior to the release that could impact what people in the market are thinking just before the data come out,” he said. “If don’t get a tweet next time, people will think it’s going to be a bad print.”
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