US non-farm payrolls surged in April with the creation of 263,000 new jobs. Although wages growth edged down from cycle highs markets responded positively. Stocks rose, with the higher growth Nasdaq leading the way. Energy and industrial metals markets rose, and gold and bonds fell as traders re-priced US growth prospects. However all of the positive momentum was undone with a series of tweets from the US president, and Asia Pacific markets are looking at an ugly day’s trading.
US Dow 30 futures fell more than 450 points in Monday morning trading after the Sunday tweets. A threat to lift tariff rates on Chinese goods this Friday goes directly against market expectations of a trade dispute resolution. Some commentators believe this is simply a last minute negotiating tactic, but US indices are vulnerable given their proximity to all-time highs. The USD is weaker against most majors, but commodity currencies are under more pressure as forex traders react to a potential further brake on global growth.
The bad news comes ahead of a busy week. Investors in China and Japan return after last week’s holidays, increasing uncertainty today.
This week the Reserve Bank of Australia and Reserve Bank of New Zealand will deliver interest rate decisions, and both events are “live”. Interest rate markets are pricing a 42% chance of a rate cut in Australia, and a 55% probability in New Zealand, exacerbating the tweet-inspired weakness.
Westpac’s half-year result may pile further pressure on share trading. The big four bank reported a 22% fall in net profit this morning. Refunds to customers and re-structuring costs are the chief negatives. Significant steps towards required new processes and a positive outlook from CEO Brian Hartzer may limit share price losses today.