Breaking News
market tensions heighten as wall street eyes jobs report and global strains 146

Market Trends

Market Tensions Heighten as Wall Street Eyes Jobs Report and Global Strains


Lauren Miller

April 4, 2024 - 20:26 pm


Wall Street Wavers as Labor Data and Geopolitical Tensions Impact Market Sentiment

In the bustling financial district of New York City, anticipatory whispers spread as traders and investors positioned themselves for the revelations of the forthcoming jobs report. In the run-up to the announcement, scheduled for Friday, the market experienced a spectrum of mild gains as optimism mingled with caution. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) vicinity, usually buzzing with assertive forecasts and confident strategies, had a restrained undertone as the labor market appeared to cool and market players braced for the earnings statements of major technology firms. This tension could be seen in the turning of tides which left stocks on a downward slope, pulling back from earlier progression as geopolitical strains exuded pressure.

A Wall Street sign near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, US, on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. Stocks saw mild gains after data signaled further labor-market cooling in the run-up to Friday's jobs report.

As market players hedged their bets on the eve of the jobs report, a surge in oil prices stoked the embers of trepidation within the financial sector. The ripples of this unease triggered a shift towards the supposedly safer havens of the market, with Treasury securities climbing and the dollar holding strong, nearing session highs.

The S&P 500 index, a barometer of market health, surrendered 1.2 percent. This retreat erased the modest gains it had initially garnered. The uplift in Brent crude oil – surmounting the US$90 mark – came amid declarations from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, during a security cabinet briefing, took a firm stance that Israel would act against Iran and its allied entities, and pledged to counter any threats posed against his nation. Concurrently, U.S. President Joe Biden conveyed to Netanyahu during a phone call that American backing for Israel's conflict would hinge on fresh efforts to safeguard civilians.

The American bond yields declined across the spectrum, an unexpected twist as Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari suggested that interest rate reductions may not be necessary this year if progress on quelling inflation hits a snag. This perspective was offered by Kashkari, among a cohort of central bank officials delivering remarks in anticipation of the release of March's employment statistics.

Healthy strides in job creation are expected to have maintained their course throughout March in the United States, yet with a more subdued growth in wages, as evidenced by a survey of economists conducted by Bloomberg. The consensus is that payrolls will have expanded by at least 200,000 for the fourth month consecutive, while average hourly earnings are set to ascend by 4.1 percent from the previous year, marking the smallest annual raise since mid-2021.

"As always, the monthly jobs report will have the final say," commented Chris Larkin of E*Trade, a division of Morgan Stanley. "Investors are on the lookout for a 'Goldilocks' figure that steers the Federal Reserve away from postponing rate cuts, but also one that doesn't spell a significant downturn in the labor market."

Conflicting views emerged from a survey done by 22V Research. In the survey, investors speculated on the market's reaction to the jobs report – 29 percent assumed a "risk-on" response, 32 percent foresaw a "risk-off" outcome, and 39 percent predicted a "mixed/negligible" reaction. "Average hourly earnings has now become the premier labor indicator," stated Dennis DeBusschere at 22V. "This aligns with inflation being the top worry for investors, who are also observing labor data very closely."

Moreover, a consensus to purchase Treasuries in the event of a resultant sell-off from the March employment data was found in a survey by Vail Hartman and Ian Lyngen of BMO Capital Markets. They found that 57 percent of those questioned would opt to buy if Treasury prices fell post-report. Conversely, if bonds rallied following the jobs data release, approximately two-thirds of investors indicated they would stay their hand.

Expert Insights as Job Report Nears

Financial experts weighed in on the significance of impending data. Yung-Yu Ma of BMO Wealth Management highlighted the market's sensitivity to inflation signals. A jobs creation figure that aligns with or slightly trails estimates could relieve market nerves, as could a more temperate uptick in hourly wages. "A single month of data isn't paramount, but the market is increasingly wary of the notion that inflation's downward trajectory is sure," Ma remarked, underscoring the importance of data that corrals this narrative back into line.

Oscar Munoz and Gennadiy Goldberg, analysts at TD Securities, opined that payroll momentum might have waned come March, with figures potentially dipping just below the 200,000 benchmarks. "A weaker-than-expected print could result in a 'bull steepening' in rates, as predictions for rate cuts make a comeback," they explained. In their view, market adjustments would likely be more prominent if the data proved weaker rather than stronger.

Chris Senyek from Wolfe Research senses that the market will react to even slight deviations from consensus figures. Nonetheless, he believes that only a significant surprise, either above or below expectations, would consistently affect futures market expectations for the Federal Reserve's interest rates.

Matthew Weller at and City Index assessed the situation, suggesting that indicators point toward a nonfarm payroll report that could slightly exceed expectations, with job growth estimates in the 200,000 to 250,000 bracket. However, he concedes that there is significant uncertainty due to the global situation.

According to Vail Hartman of BMO Capital Markets, the March employment report is largely expected to confirm the enduring robustness of the labor market, giving the Federal Reserve the leeway to continue its push for higher interest rates.

Corporate Developments to Watch

The corporate world also stood on alert for several key developments:

  • The U.S. Federal Trade Commission issued warnings to numerous companies, cautioning that it could challenge past mergers and acquisitions despite the expiry of antitrust review deadlines.
  • Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, reportedly sought financial advice concerning a possible bid for HubSpot Inc., an online marketing software company with a valuation of about $34 billion.
  • Ford Motor Co. postponed the launch of an electric three-row SUV by two years, consequently extending the layoff of 2,700 Canadian workers.
  • Boeing Co. found itself deep in another 737 Max crisis exacerbating the deficiency of popular narrowbody aircraft, leading to the highest rental costs for used jets in years.
  • Levi Strauss & Co. bucked trends and reported profits and sales that exceeded forecasts, leading to an optimistic revision of the full-year forecast.
  • Amylyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. decided to withdraw its medication for a progressive, terminal nerve condition after a study revealed no major benefit over placebo.
  • Block Inc. received a downgrade to underweight by Morgan Stanley amid limited growth prospects for its primary product, the Cash App.

The Week's Key Economic Events

The economic landscape is informed by several important events:

  • Eurozone's retail sales figures were set to be unveiled on Friday.
  • Unemployment data and nonfarm payroll statistics from the United States were also expected to be released the same day.
  • Speakers from the Federal Reserve, including Michelle Bowman, Thomas Barkin, and Lorie Logan, had speaking engagements scheduled for Friday.

Key Market Movements to Note

  • The S&P 500 fell by 1.2 percent by the close of the day in New York.
  • The Nasdaq 100 saw a 1.5 percent decrease.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by 1.4 percent.
  • The MSCI World index experienced a 0.6 percent decline.

Currency Updates

  • Minimal changes were observed in the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index.
  • The euro held steady with little change, trading at $1.0835.
  • The British pound experienced a 0.1 percent fall, reaching $1.2639.
  • The Japanese yen appreciated by 0.3 percent, assessed at 151.25 per dollar.

Cryptocurrency Movements

The dynamically shifting realm of cryptocurrencies saw:

  • Bitcoin climbing by 4.3 percent to a noteworthy $68,560.51.
  • Ether increased by 1.9 percent, reaching $3,370.09.

Bond and Commodity Markets

The bond market depicted a five basis point decline in 10-year Treasury yields to 4.30 percent. Additionally:

  • Germany’s 10-year yield saw a three basis point decrease to 2.36 percent.
  • Britain’s 10-year yield experienced a four basis point decline to 4.02 percent.

The commodities market had its share of movements too:

  • West Texas Intermediate crude enjoyed a 1.4 percent hike to $86.64 a barrel.
  • On the other hand, spot gold dipped by 0.6 percent, settling at $2,285.89 an ounce.

In conclusion, Wall Street and global financial markets brace themselves as they navigate the confluence of labor data, corporate earnings announcements, geopolitical frictions, and policy signals from central banks. With investors and analysts dissecting signals and strategy, the market positions itself for potential volatility and reappraisal. It remains to be seen how the actual jobs report data will sway the delicate balance between economic optimism and the pragmatic caution that currently grips market sentiment.