Missiles and a big miss on the data front are in focus on this Friday morning – but so far at least stock futures are none the worse for wear.
By now, I am sure you’ve heard that President Trump ordered a Tomahawk missile strike against an airfield in Syria last night. The strategic strike was in response to the Syria government’s use of chemical weapons on Tuesday of this week. The news was condemned as an act of aggression by Russia, which has supported the Syrian government militarily. And while both Syria and Russia contend that there were no chemical weapons involved in the attack, the WSJ is reporting that autopsy results show that sarin gas was the cause of death of three victims.
Stock futures initially sold off on the news of the missile strike but had rebounded early this morning back to around breakeven. However, then the closely watched Nonfarm Payrolls report was released.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy created just 98,000 new jobs during the month of March, which was about half the number that had been expected (consensus expectation had been for 180,000 new jobs). In addition, the new job totals for both January and February were reduced by a total of 38,000. If the March number holds, the economy will have created 533,000 new jobs in the first quarter of the new administration.
It is worth noting that the Nonfarm Payrolls report pales in comparison to this week’s ADP report, which showed that the private sector created 263,000 jobs in March. Some suggest that the weather is to be blamed as the mid-month snowstorm may have impacted the government’s count on retail and construction jobs.
The good news is that the official Unemployment Rate fell by 0.2% to 4.5%. This was the lowest level seen since 2007, before financial crisis.
Market reaction has been interesting. Bond yields initially declined in a flight-to-safety move, with the yield on the 10-year trading as low as 2.27% in the pre-market session, which was below the low end of the trading range that has been in effect since late November.