The only thing standing in the way of an interest rate hike this week is the blizzard that’s supposed to hit the Northeast corridor on Tuesday, which might postpone the Federal Reserve meeting (unless they meet by conference call) but it only delays the inevitable.
If the verdict hadn’t been sealed already, it surely was after last Friday’s February jobs report. The Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls rose by 235,000, well above the consensus estimate of 200,000 and at the high end of individual forecasts. Labor also upwardly revised January’s figure to 238,000, making it the best back-to-back performance since last July. At the same time, the unemployment rate fell to 4.7% while the labor participation rate rose another tick to 63.0%. Wages grew 2.8% compared to a year earlier.
The report was actually the second strong jobs story of the week. ADP said private sector payrolls jumped by 298,000 last month, beating the consensus forecast by more than 100,000.
While I’m reluctant to give a president who’s been in office less than two months much credit for this showing, I think we have to give President Trump more than a few props for it. Despite the daily barrage of attacks, negative stories and fake news in the so-called mainstream press on Trump, unquestionably he has almost single-handedly changed the investment tone in this country since he was elected. First, it showed up in the stock market; now it’s starting to goose the employment numbers. [Read more...]