The week started on positive note in Asia, as Friday’s soft US data spurred expectation that Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion fiscal aid package could soon hit the street without the Republican approval.
Last week’s jobs data was a mixed bag. The US added 49,000 nonfarm jobs in January, in line with expectations, but there has been a significant downside revision to last month’s figure, from -140’000 to -227’000.
The way to look at this number is, there has been a huge job loss in December and only 49,000 of jobs lost were recovered. This brings us to near 180,000 jobs lost during the last two months.
Therefore, the surprise fall in unemployment rate could also be put on the back of a lower participation rate, and the fact that some workers may have abandoned their job search for now, making this surprise read less shiny than the first sight.
Today, 10 million Americans remain jobless and almost half of them are off their jobs for at least 27 weeks according to Bloomberg news.
Though not brilliant per se, the NFP data was good enough to maintain investors optimistic about the future and bad enough to justify the continuation of solid Federal Reserve (Fed) and government support.
US Treasury Secretary and former Fed Head Janet Yellen defended that the government should pursue the approval of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package to help the US going back to full employment by 2022, otherwise recovery could wait until 2025.
The major risk to overstimulation is an overshooting inflation, but Yellen reassured investors that they have tools in hand to cool inflationary pressures if they became threatening.
Gold rebounded past $1800 per ounce on rising inflation expectations, and despite the rising opportunity cost of holding gold due to the rising US treasury yields.
Risk averse investors prefer paying a higher price to seek protection against the mounting inflation risk, and that could be a sign of stress hidden by the positive returns on equity prices.
This week, investors will watch the US inflation figure. While we could see a certain uptick in this week’s release, as long as the inflation figures remain under control – meaning around an average of 2%, there won’t be a major threat to the Fed doves and to the bullish trend in equities.
WTI crude continues its journey north on the back of two factors, one concerning the demand, the other the supply side. Looking at the record number of supertanks at China’s ports, the rising Chinese demand could help explaining a part of the positive push in prices, and the backwardation.
There are apparently 127 supertanks near Chinese ports, some 30% higher than thefour-year average for this time of the year.
From the supply perspective, Joe Biden’s promise to cancel the Keystone XL oil pipeline is certainly being priced in, along with OPEC+ sticking to their production cut quotas. But the supply side news could not be enough to push the prices above the $60 per barrel if demand doesn’t pick up to pre-pandemic levels fast enough.
In the FX, the EURUSD shortly slipped below the 1.20 psychological mark on Friday. The softening US dollar, due to a stronger conviction regarding Joe Biden’s fiscal aid package, could give a hand to euro bulls near this level and help the single currency holding ground. But trend and momentum indicators play against the euro right now, which means that going long euro is also swimming against the tide.