Stocks and Bonds Fall in Run-Up to US Jobs Report: Markets Wrap

Equities retreated from their all-time highs as traders refrained from making any big bets ahead of the data. A 22V Research survey shows there’s no consensus about the market reaction — with 36% of the investors polled betting on a “risk-off” move, 33% saying “risk-on”, and 31% “negligible/mixed.” Treasuries joined a slide in global bonds as the European Central Bank raised its inflation forecasts after delivering a rate cut.

US PREVIEW: Nonfarm Payrolls and Unemployment to Rise Together

In the run-up to the US payrolls report, Wall Street waded through a slew of data. Jobless claims topped estimates, US labor costs increased by less than previously reported and the trade deficit widened. Friday’s monthly data is expected to show the US added 185,000 jobs in May while the unemployment rate held steady.

“A slowing in the job market, and even an increase in unemployment, should be welcome to the extent that it alleviates some upwards pressure on inflation,” said Chris Zaccarelli at Independent Advisor Alliance. “But we are aware that too much weakness in the labor market and in the economy could eventually prove to be an even greater threat to markets than inflation.”

The S&P 500 edged lower after notching its 25th record in 2024. The US is opening antitrust investigations into Microsoft Corp. and Nvidia Corp. over their dominance of artificial intelligence, according to people familiar with the matter. GameStop Corp. jumped after Keith Gill, known as “Roaring Kitty”, scheduled a YouTube live stream for June 7 at 12 p.m. New York.

US 10-year yields rose one basis point to 4.28%. Swap markets continued to pencil in the start of the Fed rating cut in November, with a strong likelihood of another reduction in December.

European shares held near a record high. The euro rose and the yield on 10-year German bonds climbed four basis points to 2.55%.

“Investors are balancing between growing evidence of an economic slowdown and the implications for rate cuts,” said Ed Clissold at Ned Davis Research. “Moderating, but positive, growth ould be the best-case scenario for stocks.”

One the one hand, a cooling economy is signaling potential interest rate cuts, which can be bullish for stocks. But the reason of rate cuts matters too.

“If it’s because of a slowdown in inflation, it can be bullish for stocks. But if the Federal Reserve cuts because of a slowdown in growth, it’s not good news for corporate earnings,” said Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak Co.

As equities remain near record levels, the so-called single-stock fragility is posing a risk of a spill over into a broader index if something goes wrong.

Stock fragility — or the magnitude of a company’s daily share-price move relative to realized volatility of the past 21 days — is approaching a 30-year extreme for the 50 largest stocks of the S&P 500 Index, according to Bank of America Corp. strategists.

“So far, these fragility shocks have been idiosyncratic,” BofA analysts wrote. “However, there’s a risk of a correlated shock among these companies that control so much of the US as well as global equity indexes.”

In a historic move that saw the ECB slashing borrowing costs ahead of the Fed, officials led by President Christine Lagarde said that while the inflation outlook has improved “markedly,” they’ll “keep policy rates sufficiently restrictive for as long as necessary.”

“The ECB eased, but in order to get the votes, they had to agree to an increase in inflation expectations,” said Andrew Brenner at NatAlliance Securities. “So we are calling it a hawkish ease. And US Treasuries are back in the red. It does not change our view to take profits before the employment number tomorrow.”

While investors are still betting the ECB will lower rates again this year, the timing of that reduction is once again being questioned. Traders went from betting on two additional moves this year to favoring just one. A cut in September is seen as the most likely outcome but confidence on that has waned.

To Mark Wall at Deutsche Bank AG, the immediate tone of the ECB decision was that of a “hawkish cut.”

“This is not a central bank in a rush to ease policy,” he noted.

Bond traders have escalated rate-cut bets in the past week, emboldened by a slew of softer-than-forecast US economic data, the Bank of Canada’s decision to ease monetary policy, and expectations that the ECB would be next to cut.

Corporate Highlights:

Key events this week:

Some of the main moves in markets:

With assistance from Winnie Hsu, John Viljoen, Sujata Rao, Ruth Carson, Masaki Kondo and Natalia Kniazhevich.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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Published: 06 Jun 2024, 11:30 PM IST

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