US jobs growth exceeds expectations, fuels interest rate hike fears

The US economy added 336,000 jobs in September, far more than many economists expected.

A 7-Eleven convenience store has a sign in the window reading "Now Hiring" in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S
A convenience store has a sign in the window reading "Now Hiring" in Cambridge, Massachusetts [File: Brian Snyder/Reuters]

A blowout US jobs report on Friday sent the dollar higher and cast a pall over stocks and bonds as the data increased fears that interest rates will stay elevated for longer and stirred concerns the post-pandemic economy is in a new era.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 336,000 jobs last month, the Department of Labor said, while data for August was revised higher to show 227,000 jobs were added instead of the previously reported 187,000.

September’s number was almost double the 170,000 forecast of economists polled by Reuters and shocked markets as they tried to understand whether a stronger-than-expected economy was really slowing and what it will now take to curb inflation.

“The markets have been reacting to their view that the Fed is as confused as we are,” said Marvin Loh, senior global macro strategist at State Street in Boston.

“Maybe the economy has structurally changed to the point where real yields need to be higher than what they were in the five years before the pandemic,” he said.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note jumped more than 13 basis points within a half hour after the report’s release to a new 16-year high of 4.8874 percent, adding to this month’s steep sell-off. Bond yields move inversely to price.

Futures traders raised the probability of the Fed hiking rates in November to 30.7 percent, up from 23.7 percent before the data’s release, according to CME Group’s FedWatch Tool. The Fed’s overnight rate was priced above 5 percent through next July.

“We’ll see how much tightening the market does for the Fed, but a run at the 5 percent mark in 10-year yields may be inevitable if the data continues to hold up like this,” said Gennadiy Goldberg, head of US rates strategy at TD Securities USA in New York.

The dollar index was up 0.29 percent as it headed towards a 12-week winning streak after hitting its best level in about 11 months earlier in the week. The yen slid closer to 150 yen to the dollar, a level many in the market believe can spur intervention by Japanese officials.

The euro headed for a record 12 straight weeks of declines against the dollar.

Simon Harvey, head of FX Analysis at Monex Europe, said the “monstrous payrolls” figures and upwards revision to the August numbers will support the dollar’s advance.

“Given the strength in today’s employment figures, markets can’t fully discount the probability of a Fed hike in the fourth quarter, even as it coincided with weaker wage data.”

Stocks fell on Wall Street, with all 11 S&P 500 sectors initially lower, but later pared losses with the Nasdaq moving higher. The data led stocks to pare gains in European markets.

After talk of oil hitting $100 a barrel, crude slid further and faced its steepest weekly decline since March. Traders are worried that higher for longer rates would crimp global economic growth and hit fuel demand.

News that Russia’s government was lifting a ban on pipeline diesel exports via ports also dampened oil prices.

Eurozone bond yields gained, while the closely-watched gap between German and Italian borrowing costs – an indicator of stress in Italian finances – hit its highest since March.

Global bond funds posted massive weekly outflows.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.03 percent, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.15 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.26 percent, the S&P 500 lost 0.23 percent and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.02 percent.

US crude recently fell 0.26 percent to $82.10 per barrel and Brent was at $83.94, down 0.15 percent on the day.

Spot gold added 0.5 percent to $1,828.19 an ounce.

Source: Reuters