Despite the seeming progress in the trade war this week, markets took a negative turn today. The reason why? The August jobs report. The US economy only added 130,000 new jobs in August, fewer than expected. Economists thought the economy would add 173,000 jobs. The August figure is also down substantially from July’s 159,000 figure.
FINSUM: The irony of the market falling on this jobs report is that it will likely support Fed rate cuts, which everyone seems to want. We think of this as a sort of goldilocks report—not too weak to make you worry, but weak enough to support loose monetary policy.
New data just released shows the US economy is a bit weaker than everyone expected. Second quarter GDP data has been revised downward, showing that the US expanded at only 2.0% in the quarter instead of the first-reported 2.1%. Government spending, weaker exports, and private inventories weighed on the numbers. However, the very good news in the data is that consumer spending increase was the strongest in 4.5 years.
FINSUM: Consumer spending is at its highest levels since 2014 at the same time as bond yields are at extraordinary lows and everyone is worried about a recession. Either a recession will arrive or there will be some big losses in bond markets.
Pimco is probably the most respected name in fixed income, and the firm just went on the record warning about the economy and encouraging the Fed to act. The asset manager argues that the US economy is in worse shape than many think and is admonishing the Fed to cut rates more aggressively than expectations. Pimco says that momentum in the labor market is slowing, the trade war is showing little sign of abating, and the risk of financial excess caused by lower rates appears minimal. According to Pimco, “We can’t emphasise enough that labour market momentum has decelerated more markedly than most forecasters were previously expecting”.
FINSUM: We actually are on the opposite side of the fence as Pimco. We think the market is blowing things out of proportion about the economy and is overly worried. We surely hope we are right.
It has been a rough road for equities this month. Benchmarks are down 5% and there has been frequent whip-sawing action based on data and news over the trade war. Despite the fears, JP Morgan is telling investors that it is time to buy. The bank’s equity strategists, led by Mislav Matejka think that stocks are going to turn the corner very soon. The bank thinks three elements may catalyze a move higher into the year end—restarted ECB easing, a bigger than expected Fed rate cut, and improving technical indicators on signs the market has bottomed out.
FINSUM: The Fed and the ECB could certainly help support stocks, but it hard to imagine benchmarks gaining much if we keep up the frenzy of trade war news.
The market is in the worst shape it has been for some time, maybe the worst condition of the year. The S&P 500 fell over 3% last week on the combined news of a less dovish Fed and a huge tariff increase on China. Where things go from here is very uncertain, but JP Morgan is arguing that you should buy the dip. The bank’s strategists summarize their view this way, saying “Our core view remains that one should use the prospective weakness as an opportunity to add further, similar to the May experience. We continue to believe that global equities will advance further before the next U.S. recession strikes. We think that the growth-policy trade-off is far better now than it was in 2018”.
FINSUM: The market, economy, and politics are at quite a confusing point right now. Either things will gel to send prices higher, or it will all come crashing down like it did last year. Anyone’s guess.