While we were focused on developments on the East side of the Atlantic last week (including the ECB meeting), the market’s focus is shifting westwards this week, with the May Federal Reserve meeting set to conclude tomorrow and the always-impactful Non-Farm Payrolls report on Friday.
It’s a “King CAD” kind of day in the FX market, with the loonie rallying against all of her major rivals. The proximate catalyst is (wait for it) the latest scuttlebutt about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
After last month’s surprising, broad-based rise in a variety of wage measures, traders were on the edge of their seats awaiting this morning’s U.S. jobs report. After all, we’ve seen countless “false dawns” heralding the end of the persistent slack in the labor market over the last nine years, but none have proven to be more than a one- or two-month anomaly.
On a historical basis, yesterday's drop isn't particularly significant. As Eddy Elfenbein at Crossing Wall Street noted, "Last year, the S&P 500 had 48 days in which it closed up or down by more than 1%. In 2015, there were 72. So far this year, there have been seven." In other words, yesterday's fall only feels so large because we've been locked in one of the lowest volatility environments ever for the past few months. Remarkably, the S&P 500 has yet to see a 3% peak-to-trough drawdown since election day, over nine months ago.
It's become par for the course for analysts to declare every month's U.S. Non-Farm Payroll report as "THE most important jobs report ever!" but even those with a flair for hyperbole had trouble pumping up today's release. After all, the Fed is almost certainly on hold until at least its December meeting, which is four NFP releases from now (not to mention countless inflation reports, GDP readings, and ISM surveys).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported the June Non-Farm Payrolls figures, and while the data wasn't perfect, it is certainly reassuring for bulls on the U.S. economy. On a headline basis, the U.S. economy added 222,000 jobs in June, solidly above economists' expectations of 175,000 new jobs. In addition, the BLS revised its estimate of jobs growth in the previous two months higher, for a net addition of 47,000 more jobs.
The world's largest biotech fund, the iShares Nasdaq Biotech ETF, has had a quiet couple of months. For the last four months, the fund has been consolidating in a tight range between about 285.00 and 303.00. That changed abruptly this week, with prices surging out of that range to hit a high above 320.00.
Six weeks ago, we took a deep dive into the absolute and relative performance of the S&P 500's energy sector. At that point, we concluded that, "[w]ith this year's breakdown from the 2016's "bearish flag" pattern, the long-term underperformance of energy stocks could carry over through 2017 and beyond." Updating the relative performance chart from that early May piece suggests that, if anything, the outlook for energy stocks has worsened with the latest drop in oil prices.
This brings us to Friday's widely-publicized "Tech Wreck." Ahead of the weekend, the massive, former market-leading FAAMG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google) led a big reversal in U.S. tech stocks. As of writing, each of those stocks is trading off over 5% from their intraday highs, and the NAsdaq 100 index of technology stocks is trading off by over 4% as a result.