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On Wednesday, 8 March, the U.S. ADP Nonfarm Employment Change data for February was released, coming in at a lower-than-expected 145,000 against the expected 200,000 and down from January’s figure of an upwardly-revised 261,000. This is the latest in a string of cooling data showing that the Fed’s aggressive tightening regime might finally be taking effect on the last holdout of economic resilience – employment. Previously, JOLTs job openings saw an underperforming 9.931 million (against an expected 10.4m) and dropping near a two-year low; while jobless claims came in 2000 higher than expected at 198,000.
A higher chance of inflation coming under control, however, also means a higher risk of recession; given the warning signs already coming in the form of previously sustained periods of yield curve inversion and the recent bank collapses.
Markets are already starting to price in a recession. Gold cleanly and quickly broke past the 2000 psychological resistance earlier this week, catapulted by a double tailwind of a weakening U.S. dollar and safe-haven buyers. Equity markets are also showing weakness, with the S&P down 0.25% from Wednesday and the tech-heavy Nasdaq sinking 1%.
Fear, it seems, hit some earlier than others. OPEC+, including Russia, agreed to cut oil production last Sunday, conceivably on a poor demand outlook despite earlier positive signs coming from China. Prices seem to have stabilised after surging to the $80 range; although further signs of weakening in the U.S. economy will exert further pressure. We also saw gold
All eyes are now on Friday’s NFP data, which will be released on Friday, 7 Apr at 15:30 (GMT+3). Employment is expected to increase 240,000, down from last month’s 311,000. While previous employment data shows slowing, the NFP is the keystone for the employment outlook – an as-expected or lower-than-expected number might give the Fed the impetus to pause or even reverse hikes at the upcoming 2 May meeting. Punters are now betting on a 55% chance of a pause; while the rest are looking at a quarter-point hike.
As a friendly reminder, do keep an eye on market changes, control your positions, and manage your risk well.
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