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Good morning, Bull Sheeters.
The U.S. Labor Department will release the August non-farm payrolls report before the bell this morning, one of the most consequential reports so far this year. The consensus is for a net addition of 725,000 new jobs created last month. I get into the significance of that number, and what it could mean for your portfolio, below.
But that’s not the only thing to watch out for today.
Let’s see what else is moving markets. We begin in Asia.
- Asia is mixed, with Chinese stocks stumbling, but the Nikkei is up 2%.
- Japanese stocks rallied to a 30-year high on news that Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga will resign. Tough crowd! Investors hope a successor will do a better job of handling the COVID crisis, possibly opening up the stimulus spending floodgates.
- The European bourses were under pressure in early trading with the Stoxx Europe 600 down roughly 0.1% at the two-hour mark.
- Banks, media, and travel and leisure stocks were the big decliners.
- Shares in Volkswagen Group were up 0.2% at the open, outperforming the DAX, after its Audi division yesterday unveiled its first self-driving car. The pictures and details are pretty impressive.
- U.S. futures are up a touch this morning. Stocks edged up higher yesterday after the Labor Department reported a pandemic-low number of first-time jobless claims.
- Speaking of the labor market: set your alarm for 8:30 a.m. ET. That’s when the non-farms payroll report comes out today.
- Shares in Virgin Galactic fell nearly 3% yesterday (and are off a further 1.2% in pre-market) after the FAA yesterday temporarily barred the company from further space flights following a flight-path mishap that occurred on the July voyage that brought founder Richard Branson high above the Earth’s atmosphere. Oops.
- Gold is flat, trading around $1,815.
- The dollar is barely budging ahead of the jobs report.
- Crude is higher, with Brent climbing above $73/barrel.
- Bitcoin dipped back below $50,000 over night.
By the numbers
It’s jobs day, and today’s report promises to pack some Labor Day fireworks. A strong print will fuel market expectations of a speedier decision to taper. A reminder: the Fed says a big reason for its asset-buying spending spree is to add some rocket fuel to the labor market. If the unemployment rate were to fall back to near pre-pandemic levels, that should give the central bankers the data they need to pull back on spending our tax dollars on things like mortgage-backed securities and Treasuries. That’s the thinking, anyways. I’ve been doing this long enough to know it’s folly to make a stocks-go-up/stocks-go-down prediction on the over/under for jobs reports. But here’s what to look for: the consensus is in the +725,000 new-jobs ballpark. A number around that, or above, will increase the taper talk. Taper is not good news for growth/momentum stocks, but should give a lift to value stocks, financials and the dollar. It doesn’t always work out that way, but that’s the prevailing logic on Wall Street. Now, if the number comes in a far bit lower? Such a scenario would likely be blamed on Delta. That would mean we’re seeing some headwinds in the recovery, and it would likely mean the Fed will stick with the status-quo. The don’t-rock-the-boat policy would likely be good news for growth and momentum stocks. Capite?
Goldman Sachs, for one, thinks the jobs number will come in closer to 500,000. And that’s because its analysts are scanning the COVID data, and they don’t like what they see. “The Delta variant has weighed more sharply on consumer confidence, services consumption, and Big Data employment indicators than we expected,” they write in explaining how they arrive at their below-consensus number. Goldman points to a noticeable drop in OpenTable restaurant-reservation data and in spiking Homebase COVID infection data. Delta, they feel, is having an impact on both labor demand and labor supply. We’ll see who’s right in a few hours.
I want to extend a special thank you to Bull Sheet readers. The community is growing at a pace that’s blown away my best-case projection. Last week, we topped 50,000 subscribers. As of yesterday, Bull Sheet was somewhere north of 50,600. At the same time, Bitcoin was at $50,100 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 35,312.53. By that measure, we’re outperforming the markets. I’ve heard from many of you in recent weeks—and it’s not always to exchange truffle-dog training tips or dish on favorite tagliatelle al tartufo recipes; many of you drop me a line to grumble about Fed policy and your concerns about tech-stock valuations. Keep the emails coming.
Programming note: Bull Sheet will be back on Tuesday, after the U.S. Labor Day holiday… Have a nice weekend, everyone.
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