Apr 5, 2019, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
The most-watched number for the U.S. economy has been throwing up some surprises recently but that hasn’t stopped economists predicting that employers in March added a solid 177,000 new positions. The nonfarm data released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time is expected to show the unemployment rate staying at an almost 50-year low of 3.8 percent and wages growing at an annual pace of 3.4 percent. Markets are very much in a wait-and-see mode ahead of the report after the recent recession angst.
Talks about talks
Both China and the U.S. made positive noises about progress at this week’s trade talks in Washington. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He who led his country’s negotiations said the two sides had “reached new consensus on such important issues as the text” of a trade agreement, while President Donald Trump talked up the prospects for a “monumental” deal. While pressure is mounting on both sides to end their trade conflict, there are doubts that things will go back to business as usual between the world’s two largest economies.
British Prime Minister Theresa May this morning asked the European Union for an extension to the Brexit deadline to June 30 in order to give time to reach an agreement with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn on a way forward. The request will set up a battle at next week’s European summit, with leaders of the bloc, who already rejected the June 30 date last month, citing a preference for the U.K. to go for a much longer extension. May is keen on that date as it would avoid forcing Britain to take part in European Parliament elections. Should no agreement on a new deadline be reached next week, the U.K. is still on track to leave on April 12 without any deal at all.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index was broadly unchanged, while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.4 percent higher in a relatively quiet trading session in the region as Chinese and Hong Kong markets were closed for a holiday. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was little changed at 5:45 a.m. as investors awaited the U.S. payrolls number. S&P futures pointed to a small rise at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.531 percent and gold slipped.
It’s also job’s day north of the border. The Canadian employment change is unlikely to repeat last month’s feat of coming in above the U.S. number when the data is released at 8:30 a.m. The Baker Hughes rig count is published at 1:00 p.m., while total U.S. consumer credit for February is at 3:00 p.m. And Trump travels to the Mexican border later as he continues to keep the issue of immigration at the front of his policy agenda.