Market Jitters: Strong US Jobs Data Sparks Fear of Tightening Labor Market and Rising Yields

Rates Spark: Escalating into a Rout as Bond Bear Steepening Accelerates

The fear of strong jobs

By Ipek Ozkardeskaya, Senior Analyst | Swissquote Bank  

Even a hint of an improving US jobs market sends shivers down investors' spines. 

This is why the stronger than expected job openings data from the US spurred panic across the global financial markets yesterday. Although hirings and firings remained stable, the financial world was unhappy to see so many job opportunities offered to Americans as the data hinted that the US jobs market could be going back toward tightening, and not toward loosening. And that means that Americans will keep their jobs, find new ones, asked better pays, and keep spending. That spending will keep US growth above average and continue pushing inflation higher, and the Federal Reserve (Fed) will not only keep interest rates higher for longer but eventually be obliged to hike them more. Alas, a catastrophic scenario for the global financial markets where the rising US yields threaten to destroy value everywhere. PS. JOLTS data is volatile, and one data point is insufficient to point at changing trend. We still believe that the US jobs market will continue to loosen. 

But the market reaction to yesterday's JOLTS data was sharp and clear. The US 2-year yield spiked above 5.15% after the stronger than expected JOLTS data, the 10-year yield went through the roof and hit the 4.85% mark. News that the US House Speaker McCarthy lost his position after last week's deal to keep the US government open certainly didn't help attract investors into the US sovereign space. The US blue-chip bond yields on the other hand have advanced to the highest levels since 2009, and the spike in real yields hardly justify buying stocks if earnings expectations remain weak. The S&P500 is now headed towards its 200-DMA, which stands near the 4200 level. The more rate sensitive Nasdaq still has ways to go before reaching its own 200-DMA and critical Fibonacci levels, but the selloff could become harder in technology stocks if things got uglier. 

In the FX, the US dollar extended gains across the board. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) kept the interest rate steady at 5.5% as expected. Due today, the ADP report is expected to show a significant slowdown in US private job additions last month; the expectation is a meagre 153'000 new private job additions in September. Any weakness would be extremely welcome for the rest of the world, while a strong looking data, an - God forbid – a figure above 200K could boost the Federal Reserve (Fed) hawks and bring the discussion of a potential rate hike in November seriously on the table.  

The EURUSD consolidates below the 1.05 level, the USDJPY spiked shortly above the 150 mark, and suddenly fell 2% in a matter of minutes, in a move that was thought to be an unconfirmed FX intervention. Gold extended losses to $1815 per ounce as the rising US yields increase the opportunity cost of holding the non-interest-bearing gold. 

The barrel of American crude remains under pressure below the $90pb level. US shale producers say that they will keep drilling under wraps even if oil prices surge to $100pb, pointing at Joe Biden's war against fossil fuel. A tighter oil supply is the main market driver for now, but recession fears will likely keep the upside limited, and September high could be a peak. 

Rates Spark: Escalating into a Rout as Bond Bear Steepening Accelerates

Michael Hewson

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