Markets mixed ahead of data

European stock markets making small gains while Wall Street is eyeing a flat open on Wednesday, as investors eye up the jobs report later in the week.

The ADP data today may offer a peak at what’s to come later in the week, although as we always caution, it isn’t the most reliable precursor for Friday’s NFP. It may offer some insight into whether market expectations are overly optimistic or not nearly enough, but we can’t take a great deal away from the release.

As ever though, the more hype around the jobs report, the greater importance the ADP takes on. With members of the FOMC divided on the timing and pace of tapering, the next couple of jobs reports could swing the debate one way or another ahead of the September meeting.

US PMIs eyed after Monday’s disappointment

PMI reports have been closely monitored this week for any signs of weakness after all the talk of peak growth in Q2 and the worrying spread of the delta variant. The manufacturing data left investors a little nervous, with the Chinese and US survey’s missing expectations, pointing to slower growth in the world’s largest economies.

The services PMI reports so far today have displayed no such weakness. The Caixin reading rebounded strongly overnight, while the euro area posted its best readings in 15 years, thanks to easing restrictions and the ramping up of its vaccine rollout.

The US survey’s are up next and we all saw how markets responded to Monday’s disappointment. With services accounting for more than three quarters of US output, the PMIs could set the tone heading into Friday’s jobs report. While the manufacturing data was softer on Monday, the employment sub-index rebounded which could bode well for the jobs report on Friday, especially if supported by the services data.

Oil steady ahead of data releases

Oil prices are relatively steady on Wednesday after a rocky couple of days. Crude prices came close to their recent peak but PMI data on Monday pulled the rug from underneath the rally and saw prices tumble over the first couple of sessions of the week. This isn’t anything major to worry about and was at least partially a reflection of the short-term overextended nature of prices going into the week.

WTI slipped below $70 but recovered to sit a little above here going into a batch of economic reports today. The small draw reported by API on Tuesday had little impact, with the EIA the more closely followed release. That follows a few other data points though, with the ADP employment and two services PMIs potentially being the catalyst for the next move in oil prices.

Strong reports from the US could propel WTI higher once more. Although there’s some way to go to make up the lost ground this week, not to mention the early July peak when prices hit their highest level since 2014. I expect prices will remain well supported in the coming weeks as the recovery continues but the pattern of lower momentum may continue.

Should gold bulls be worried?

Gold is seeing more consolidation despite US yields remaining very low. This may just be caution ahead of Friday’s jobs data and the technical setup continues to look bullish. But gold struggling to break higher while yields sit around their lowest levels since earlier this year may be a concern.

Of course, a softer jobs report could see yields sink further and be the catalyst for the bullish breakout above $1,833, with the next big level being $1,850. A move below $1,790 on the other hand would be a worrying development and could see the yellow metal eyeing the June lows around $1,750 as investors weigh up the prospect of a September taper announcement.

Cooling off period for Bitcoin

Bitcoin is slightly in the red again today, extending its losing streak to a fifth consecutive session. This comes after it finally broke $41,000 which is why I’m not particularly concerned about the run of losses. The move feels like nothing more than a cooling off period and I would be surprised if the decline gathers any real momentum.

If risk appetite improves into the end of the week, I’d expect bitcoin to surge once more and perhaps this is what we’re waiting for. Technical support below lies around $36,000, which is around the peaks we saw late June/early July. It’s also a 50% retracement of the move from the July lows to the August highs. A move below here could shake confidence a little.

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