As investors return from the Thanksgiving-shortened trading week, the focus will shift to the U.S. labour market.
The Labour Department’s monthly jobs report due for release on Friday is set to provide an updated snapshot of the strength in hiring and labour force participation in the U.S. economy. Consensus economists are looking for a half-million jobs to have returned in November, with the pace of hiring slowing only slightly from October’s 531,000 gain. The unemployment rate is also expected to improve further to 4.5% from October’s 4.6%, reaching the lowest level since March 2020.
Last week’s initial jobless claims fell to a 52-year low of 199,000, taking out both the prior pandemic-era low and pre-pandemic average for new first-time filings. This served as yet another point underscoring the steep competition for labour among U.S. employers, with companies attempting to hire and retain their existing workforces amid widespread labour shortages.
Returning the economy back to pre-pandemic labour force participation levels and ensuring job gains are seen equitably across different groups has become a key focus for the Federal Reserve. And the distance still left to make up on these fronts has also been the biggest factor keeping the Fed ultra-accommodative with its monetary policy support, even after a parade of hotter-than-expected inflation reports that would appear to warrant a more hawkish policy tilt and a quicker-than-expected hike to interest rates. Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s renomination to remain as head of the central bank further suggests the Fed’s focus on the labour market as a critical informing factor for monetary policy will remain.
Payrolls are expected to rise by 550,000 and the unemployment rate to edge down to 4.5%, according to the median estimates of economists ahead of Labour Department data due Friday in Washington.
A strong jobs report, coupled with another monthly jump in consumer prices in Labour Department data out on the 10th December, could seal a decision at the Federal Reserve’s mid-December meeting to accelerate the tapering of bond purchases. But a new pandemic wave might still scupper that, a fear that caused market jitters on Friday.
Any acceleration in euro-area consumer-price data on Tuesday will mean the region’s enduring the fastest inflation since the creation of the single currency. That will heap further scrutiny on the European Central Bank, whose officials insist the surge is largely transitory as they approach a crucial decision on the future of stimulus.
In cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin edged higher to around $57,400, continuing recovery from Sunday’s one and a half-month low of $53,308.93.
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