5 Things To Watch In Friday’s Nonfarm Payrolls

By Kathy Lien, Managing Director of FX Strategy for BK Asset Management.

The traded higher against all of the major currencies Thursday despite softer U.S. data. The only thing that mattered were stocks, which extended their gains after Wednesday’s dramatic reversal. hit a fresh 1-month high and is now eyeing 108. While the pair could get close to that level during the Asian or European trading sessions, it’s unlikely to break it ahead of Friday’s report. Having just raised in March, Friday’s jobs report won’t have an immediate impact on Fed policy as investors are not looking for another rate hike until June at the earliest. However nonfarm payrolls is always an important release and the changes expected over the previous month are significant enough that a surprise in one direction or another is all but certain. Economists are looking for job growth to slow significantly, which would be negative for the dollar. But they also anticipate an improvement in the and stronger growth. Last month’s NFP report beat expectations by more than 100K so revisions are also in focus.

Taking a look at other recent data, there are more arguments in favor of a softer than stronger but with the of non-manufacturing ISM rising in March, the headline number could beat, especially if prior job growth is revised lower. Here’s how the arguments for NFPs stack up this month:

Arguments In Favor Of Stronger Payrolls

  1. of Non-Manufacturing ISM Rises
  2. Rise in University of Michigan
  3. Drop to 40-Year Lowing ISM

Arguments In Favor Of Weaker Payrolls

  1. of Manufacturing ISM Drops
  2. ADP Reports Smaller Increase in
  3. Rises to 228K
  4. Drop in Conference Board
  5. Challenger Reports 39.4% increase in

Five Things We’re Watching In Friday’s Labor Report:

  1. Growth
  2. Revisions to Last Month’s Report
  3. Change in
  4. Growth

Considering ‘s recent strength, investors are positioning for a stronger labor-market numbers but there’s also plenty of room (in and the ) for a downside surprise, which makes trading this month particularly difficult. At the same time, it means there should be big reaction depending on the direction of the surprise. If payrolls exceed 200K, wage growth rises by 0.3% and the unemployment rate falls as expected, will break 108 easily. However if wages rise by only 0.2%, the unemployment rate holds steady and payrolls are 200K or less, we should see USD/JPY below 106.80.

The will also be on the move Friday with Canada’s scheduled for release at the same time as NFP.
USD/CAD is trading lower ahead of the data as investors hope for a rebound in full-time job growth that will drive the net change higher. Although Canada’s widened more than anticipated, the Canadian dollar ended the day higher against most of the major currencies as investors look forward to a NAFTA deal. According to Prime Minister Trudeau, NAFTA talks are moving forward in a significant way and there’s talk that a deal could be announced at a regional summit in Peru next week. The and dollars on the other hand traded sharply lower despite stronger Australian economic reports. Both the and improved but the only thing that mattered was the recovery in the . At this point, how AUD/USD and NZD/USD trade hinges on NFPs.

The sell-off in and on the other hand was supported by data. German and Eurozone grew less than expected in February.
Although increased, this uptick was offset by the other releases and downward revisions to Eurozone PMIs. Thursday’s worst-performing currency was sterling, which isn’t a surprise considering that slowed alongside and . All 3 UK PMI reports fell for the month of March and these declines took GBP/USD below 1.40. If the rises on the back of a stronger , GBP/USD could extend its slide down to 1.39.

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