Stocks end the week up despite tight jobs market
On Thursday, the US Labor Department released the closely watched Initial Jobless Claims report which revealed applications for unemployment benefits decreased by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 190,000 last week. The report indicates that despite news of layoffs in large US corporations, the labour market continues to show resilience, fuelling speculation that interest rates may have to stay higher for longer than previously expected.
Although higher levels of employment are traditionally viewed as positive for an economy, in recent weeks investors have interpreted strong levels of employment as evidence for the Federal Reserve to implement tighter monetary policy.
Investors found some reprieve on Thursday from these concerns when Atlanta Fed President Ralph Bostic struck a more dovish tone in his remarks in relation to future policy.
European stocks saw a choppy week for investors as conflicting economic indicators guided sentiment. Early in the week hot inflation reports for both France and Spain in the month of February saw Eurozone stocks slide. Frances Inflation rose to 7.2% from 7.0%, above expectations of 7.0%. Inflation in Spain meanwhile accelerated to 6.1% up from 5.9% the previous month and far above economists’ expectations of a 5.5% figure. Despite high inflation the outlook for the Eurozone economy finished the week positive.
The S&P Global Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) displayed an expansion in economic activity in the region over the month of February in the services industry, leading many investors to forecast the 20-country Bloc to avoid a recession. In Asia, Hong Kong equities returned 3.0% in euro terms. Much of these gains were brought on by the resurgence of economic growth in China. As has been discussed for some time the reopening of China and loosening of Zero-Covid measures is beginning to show results for investors. China’s Manufacturing PMI displayed the largest expansion in over a decade last week. All eyes will be set on China’s National People’s Congress next week where President Xi Jinping will set a new growth target for the country.
Global stocks were up last week by 1.4% in euro terms and down 1.4% In local terms. Year-to-date global markets were up 7.0% in euro terms and 6.2% in local terms. The US market, the largest in the world, finished at 1.7% in euro terms and up 1.7% in local terms.
Fixed Income & FX
The US 10-year yield finished at 3.91% last week. The German equivalent finished at 2.65%. The Irish 10-year bond yield finished at 3.58%. The Euro/US Dollar exchange rate finished at 1.06, whilst Euro/GBP finished at 0.89.
Oil finished the week at $79 per barrel and is up 1.6% year-to-date in euro terms. Gold finished the week at $1,852 per troy ounce and is up 0.8% year to-date in euro terms. Copper finished the week at $8955 per tonne.
The week ahead
Wednesday 8th March
US Bureau of Labor Statistics releases JOLTS Job Openings report.
Thursday 9th March
Bank of Japan issues Monetary Policy Statement.
Friday 10th March
US Non-Farm Payrolls report is released.
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