Is it About US Jobs Today?

Following the recent string of robust US
economic data, and strong hints and conviction that the Fed is poised to hike
rates in a fortnight, it will take a significant downside surprise to be
  Moreover, given economic backdrop, which has seen
economists revise forecasts higher for Q4, a major disappointment, would likely
be shrugged off after the headline effect.  

The fact of the matter is that the US economy
is growing above trend after a largely inventory-led, and manufacturing soft
patch produced a few quarter of sub-par growth. 
The Federal Reserve’s
has nearly achieved its mandate of full employment and price stability (as it
defines it, which broadly similar to other major central banks).  

The prospect of fiscal stimulus and the commitment by President-elect Trump’s economic
team of 3%-4% growth has also influenced
the long-end of the curve. 
The market is edging toward discounting
two hikes next year.  The December 2017 Fed funds futures closed yesterday
with the highest implied yield since January (102.5 bp).

Although net new jobs grab the headline, the market may be more sensitive to the details,
especially the hourly earnings, understood as a measure of wage inflation and
the tightness of the labor market.
  The 2.8% year-over-year increase
in October was the most in seven years.  Over time, the many economist’s models will show that headline
inflation converges to core inflation, and core inflation converges to wage
inflation.  To be sure the hourly earnings is a nominal, not real measure.   

The underemployment rate may also be
increasingly important going forward.
still be a measure of labor market slack.  In October, it had
fallen to a new cyclical low of 9.5%,
after having been stuck at 9.7% in six of the last eight months.  

The capital markets are finishing the week
amid speculation that the driving forces of the past three weeks are
Global equities and the dollar may be snapping three-week
advances.  The issue is whether it is a consolidation or trend change.
  The former is a more prudent assumption until proven otherwise.  As
a rough and ready signal, the 100.60 level in the Dollar Index, which
corresponds to the lows November 22 and November 28 is reasonable. 
Earlier today, it was approached (100.70), and the Dollar Index recovered. 
For its part, the euro made a new two-week high just below $1.07
(~$1.0690)  before being sold to session lows in the European morning, a
half a cent lower.   Above $1.0700, a sustained move through $1.0725
would also suggest a deeper correction to the three-week sell-off than a
consolidative move.

There is much
focus on the Italian referendum this weekend (though we are practically alone
in warning that the populist-nationalist forces do not win in Italy regardless
of the outcome of the referendum, whereas in Austria the far-right Freedom
Party could capture the presidency), yet Italian assets continue to not simply
hold their own, but do well.
The Italian 10-year yield is off eight
bp today and 10 for the week. It is the best week for BTPs in two months. 
Spain’s 10-year yield, by comparison, is
off six bp today and one on the
week.  Italian stocks are off today with the rest of Europe’s markets but
the loss in Italy is more modest than most, and it the only major market
advancing on the week (3.3%).   Italian bank shares have rallied a
little more than 5% this week.  

One trend that has been in place since the US
election has been the underperformance large cap technology companies.
Reports yesterday suggesting that Apple was reducing orders for iPhone 7 parts sent US chipmakers down
yesterday by the most in five months (Philadelphia Semiconductor Index fell
nearly 5% with all 30 members down).  This
spilled over to the Apple ecosystem
and weighed on Asian shares.  The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index fell nearly

While there have
been several economic reports, they are not moving markets today.
  Of note, the UK construction PMI came in at 52.8,
an unexpected improvement over October’s 52.6.  The Swiss economy
unexpectedly stagnated in Q3 after a 0.2% expansion in Q2. There were poor
domestic economic impulses, with household spending increasing be a mere
0.1%.  The 0.5% rise in capex is
notable, but also illustrates that that sector is too small in Switzerland, and
other industrialized countries, to carry the modern economy.  We note that
Australia’s retail sales rose 0.5% in October, which is a bit better than expected and follows some disappointing
building approvals, new home sales, and capex.  

Lastly, Hong Kong and Switzerland signed a
memorandum of understanding for mutual recognition, which will allow funds to be distributed in each other’s markets.


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