US jobs report; Japan catches up; Jerome Powell speaks

Posted at 3:10 AM, Jan 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-04 08:57:24-05

1. Jobs report: The latest US jobs report smashed expectations Friday, showing the labor market stayed strong amid major stock market declines.

The Labor Department said the US economy added 312,000 jobs in December. The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.9% as more people looked for jobs.

Economists had expected the report to show that the US economy added 178,000 jobs over the month, according to a survey conducted by Refinitiv.

Hiring has been strong in recent months, but economists predict US growth will slow in 2019 as the effects of tax cuts wear off. The economy added 155,000 jobs in November.

2. Japan catches up: Japan’s Nikkei was the one major global stock index to drop on Friday, plunging 2.3%.

The market had been closed for an extended New Year holiday, avoiding the global losses that came on the back of Apple’s (AAPL) warning about weakening iPhone sales in China.

Among the stocks hit in Tokyo were Apple suppliers Sharp (SHCAY) and Kyocera (KYOCY), which both slumped by more than 4%.

Apple, one of the world’s most widely held stocks, plummeted 10% on Thursday in the United States, its worst day in nearly six years. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA), a large Apple shareholder, fell 5%.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed 2.8% down on Thursday, while the S&P 500 dropped 2.5%. The Nasdaq plunged 3%, returning to bear market territory.

3. Powell speaks: Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will appear alongside his predecessors Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke at a panel discussion in Atlanta at 10:15 a.m. ET.

Investors will be looking for reassuring words from the central banker following recent market volatility.

“I doubt Powell will use this platform to announce any significant shift in Fed policy but he may address the sizeable difference between central bank and market expectations for the coming year,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at online broker OANDA.

4. Global market overview: US stock futures were pointing higher. European markets opened up, following a positive session in Asia.

Chinese stocks got a boost after the country’s Commerce Ministry said trade talks with the United States will restart next week. The White House is yet to confirm the talks.

They will be the first formal negotiations on trade between the world’s two biggest economies since presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to temporarily cease trade hostilities at the G20 in Buenos Aires last month.

Separately on Friday, the People’s Bank of China said it would slash the amount of money that banks are required to hold in reserve, the latest in a series of policy changes the government has taken to support growth.

The central bank said it would cut its reserve requirement ratio by 1 percentage point over the next month. The reductions will be made in two stages on January 15 and January 25.

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5. Earnings and economics:

Canada’s December jobs report will be published at 8:30 a.m. ET.

6. Coming this week:
Friday — US jobs report for December