It would be easy to dismiss Friday’s US Payrolls Report as a backwards looking indicator. Certainly last Thursday’s Manufacturing ISM report -in particular the slump in the new orders sub-index- is a worry, revealing a clear linkage with the sharp slowdown in Chinese imports revealed in November’s trade data and subsequent manufacturing PMIs. There is also the no small matter of over 800,000 US public servants currently furloughed by the failure of the administration and the newly sworn in Congress to strike a deal that would get a large swathe of the government back to work. Yet there can be no denying that the US economy ended 2018 with strong positive momentum, a fact acknowledged by Jay Powell in his conversation alongside Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke on Friday. US payrolls rose by a 312k in December (plus there were 58k worth of upward revision to October and November). Average earnings rose by 0.4%, also higher than expected and pushing annual growth up to a new cycle high of 3.2%.from 3.1% previously. Sure, the Unemployment Rate rose, from 3.7% to 3.9%, but only because of a surge in the labour forced (+419k) which served to pull the participation rate up by 0.2%.
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