JOLTS Survey, Trump Arraignment, and Oil Price Boost
On Tuesday, April 4th, the Labor Department released its Job Openings survey for February, following a day after the ISM’s manufacturing survey sparked fresh hopes of an early Fed pivot. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is set to be arraigned in New York, while his main rival for the Republican nomination next year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, is facing criticism from Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger. Oil prices have also extended their gains after OPEC’s surprise output quota cut over the weekend.
Here are the key highlights affecting the markets:
JOLTS survey tests labor market strength
The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, released at 10:00 ET (14:00 GMT), is the first of several labor market data points for the week. Some analysts argue that the JOLTS may be overstating the strength of hiring, given that it only extrapolates from data on externally advertised jobs, which appear to account for more of total job vacancies today than before the pandemic. Consensus forecasts have been on the low side for five months in a row, with job vacancies expected to have fallen for a second straight month. A lower-than-expected number may cause questions about the strength of the labor market, particularly following Federal Reserve Governor Lisa Cook’s argument for at least one more interest rate hike.
Disney CEO criticizes Florida Governor as Trump faces
Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ crackdown on the company’s privileged status in the state as “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.” DeSantis’ running battle with Disney over a controversial law banning the teaching of gender and sexuality-related issues in state classrooms is seen as a key part of his positioning ahead of the race for the Republican Party presidential nomination next year. Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump faces arraignment in New York on charges relating to hush-money payments made to a porn star during the 2016 election campaign.
Stocks set to open flat, with CS shareholder meeting and FTC deal in focus
U.S. stocks are set to drift at the open, with most market participants apparently more interested in the political-criminal drama expected to unfold in New York later. Dow Jones futures were effectively unchanged, as were S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures. Stocks likely to be in focus include UBS, against the backdrop of Credit Suisse’s last-ever annual shareholder meeting, and French skincare giant L’Oreal, which announced its biggest acquisition in years with a $2.5 billion deal for Australian-based Aesop. The Federal Trade Commission struck down Illumina’s proposed deal to buy cancer diagnostic group Grail for $7 billion.
Australia pauses hikes; brighter news from Germany
The Australian central bank halted a policy tightening cycle that had lasted nearly a year, leaving its cash rate unchanged at 3.60%. The Aussie was the weakest of the major currencies in overnight trading as a result. However, the RBA left the door open to resuming rate hikes in the future if the current bout of financial market volatility blows over. In Europe, German trade data for February suggested that Europe’s traditional growth engine was getting back into gear. Exports and imports both posted solid growth of around 4% from January, while Germany’s six leading economic think tanks will upgrade their estimates for gross domestic product this year to growth of 0.3%, from a contraction of 0.4% in their last report.
Oil prices extend gains ahead of API update
Crude oil prices extended their gains after OPEC’s decision over the weekend to cut output quotas by over 1 million barrels a day. U.S. crude