The U.S. economy added 528,000 jobs in July. The increase crushed all estimates. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg were looking for about half that gain. The Labor Department also revised June job gains upward to 398,000. The unemployment rate dipped to 3.5%, matching a five-decade low. Wages rose with average hourly earnings up 0.5% in July month to month. Annual wage growth came in at a 5.2% annual rate. That was the same rate as in June.
So what does it all mean?
Before I dive into the numbers themselves, let’s look at the clearest reaction.
Faster job growth and strong wage growth equals higher odds for a big 75-basis-point interest rate increase at the Fed’s September 22 meeting. Odds of a 75 basis-point increase claimed to 67.5% on the CME Fed Satch Tool, which looks t prices in the Fed Funds Futures market to judge the likelihood of a Fed move. Yesterday, the odds of a 75-basis point increase were just 34%. The remainder of the “votes” now go to a 50-basis-point increase. There are no votes for a 25-basis-point move.
The jobs report also moved the goal posts for end-of-year interest rates. The Fed Watch Tool now gives 47.7% odds the Fed will end the year with its short-term benchmark interest rate at 3.5% to 3.75%. (That’s up from 28.3% odds yesterday.) Another 24.6% of the “votes” go to a 3.75% to 4.00% range. (That’s up from just 4.6% yesterday.)
As you might expect, bond yields climbed and bond prices sank. The yield on the 10-year Treasury jumped 17 basis points (as of noon New York time) to 2.86%.
Stocks haven’t tumbled–yet–by as much as you might expect with this sentiment. The Standard & Poor’s 500 was off 0.85% at noon New York time, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was lower by 0.46%. The NASDAQ Composite had dropped 1.26% and the Russell 2000 had lost 0.18%.
I say “yet” because the trend has been down today with the indexes dropping more as the session advanced.
The decline is being tempered by a climb in commodity stocks (on news of a hotter than expected labor market and therefore a stronger economy.) Oil, for example, was higher with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate up 1.51% and international benchmark Brent ahead 1.57%.
There are some “interesting” aspects to this jobs data. I’ll dive into some of them with my next post.