Hey everybody, Dave Bartosiak with Trending Stocks at Zacks.com. This is all very acidic above the shoulders mustard stuff. Wall Street is all about numbers and all these numbers seem to come with letters attached just to make it more confusing to passersby. PMI manufacturing, ISM services, MBA mortgage apps, ADP employment, SSI Confidence Index, EIA petrol, GDP, FOMC, ECB, BoJ, HPI, Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh my!
Today the alphabet soup du jour was NFP, as in Non-Farm Payrolls. This monthly report is produced by the BLS, there we go again with the letters, the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report is intended to represent the total number of paid US workers of any business. It excludes workers from government jobs, private households, non-profits and, as the name suggests, farm employees.
In terms of financial markets, this is probably the single most important data point we have. It only comes out once a month and it has the potential to whipsaw markets each and every time it’s released. When you hear it in the news, it will be thrown out not as the total number but as in the change versus the previous month. For example, this month’s number was +151k, meaning the economy added 151,000 jobs.
It was a Goldilocks number this morning. It wasn’t too hot, or too cold, but just right. A number that’s too good would likely force the Fed’s hand and cause a rate hike in September. The stock market loves accommodative monetary policy in the form of low rates. Keep kicking that can down the road and markets rejoice. However, a bad NFP number this month would have signaled a slowdown in the economy, sending the market tumbling. Coming in at 151k was just right.
It’s not just stocks like online resume marketplace Monster Worldwide (MWW) that are sensitive to the NFP number. This report today sent shockwaves rippling through oil and gold stocks too. The junior gold miners (GDXJ) were up 4% while the US Oil Fund (USO) added 2%. The Goldilocks number could mean no September hike which led to a weaker dollar today.
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