On Friday, the Non farm payroll data was finally released for the month of March. From the 8th-14th March, 701,000 jobs were lost in the United States, far exceeding predictions of 100,000. This is the highest figure of jobs lost in 11 years, and is only the start. The first state to come under lockdown, which was California, only started on the 20th. Therefore it is fully expected that the full consequences of the pandemic will only be truly reflected in subsequent months' data releases.
However despite this massive drop in jobs figures the markets reacted quite little to this news. The Dow Jones lost 3.6% on Friday, with the NASDAQ and S&P 500 both only dropping 1.5% as well. This can be explained in the fact that market sentiment is already extremely negative, and the published figures were more or less expected, as global markets prepare themselves for a recession. Dow futures are currently trading close to 22,000 points.
And in contrast, the US Dollar appreciated during all of this, rising to 100.703 points on the Dollar index, a fourth straight day of gains as investors continue to flock to its safety.
Prior to this there had been a record of 113 consecutive months of job gains, which has now been wiped out with the biggest loss in jobs since 2009. However, analysts are only anticipating these figures to become worse. Some are even predicting that April’s release could show a loss of 20 million jobs.
Released by the Department of Labor Statistics, the Non farm payrolls report is released on the first Friday of each month, and is a collection of various statistics, most importantly the number of people employed within the US, excluding agricultural and seasonal workers. As such it is a strong indication of the US economy, and as a result, the US dollar and stock indices as well. Therefore this release usually draws a lot of attention, with a lot of market movement preceding and immediately following the release as traders try to take advantage of the released data.
Just a mere month ago it seemed the US economy’s strength was unstoppable, with stock indices on record bull runs. Last month’s NFP release saw a gain in jobs of 225,000, which had far exceeded predictions of 160,000. And now after just a few weeks of being impacted by the coronavirus markets have become incredibly volatile, and futures look uncertain.
Crude Oil has also dipped for the day, following the news that Russia and the OPEC alliance had postponed their meeting to discuss the current ongoing price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the alliance. Last week US President Donald Trump had announced on Twitter that he had talked to the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, regarding the oil situation and that he expected the production of oil to drop between 10 to 15 million barrels between the two countries. That news caused WTI crude to spike up an astonishing 24%, and a further 11% the next day, where it peaked at $28/barrel. But now following this crude oil dropped back down to $26.58 per barrel. (Update: Russia has now reported that they are very close to a deal with Saudi Arabia to cut oil production, and that has caused optimism in oil prices once again, returning to a peak of $27.94.)
We are continuing to livestream on YouTube every day at 10.00am GMT. Our last stream last week on Friday talked about the market movements leading up to NFP, so take a look here: