First, let’s talk about the jobs report. The non-farm payroll number showed an increase of 173,000 new jobs in August, which was a little shy of expectations. The unemployment rate fell to 5.1%, while average hourly earnings increased 0.3% (average hours worked ticked up slightly also). All in all, the employment report was good enough to confirm that one of the Fed’s mandates is securely on the positive side of the ledger (their inflation target of 2% on the other hand continues to be a sticking point). It appears that the only thing that could keep the Fed from lift off two weeks from now is the stock market (fueled by global discomfort). That leads us to today’s markets…
Once again, stocks seem intent on testing last week’s lows. Worried about what may be waiting for them after the 3 day holiday weekend, traders showed little interest in buying anything which allowed stocks to continuously drift lower through most of the trading session. By the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 272 points to finish the day at 16,102. The S&P was down 29 to close at 1921. Gold was down $3 to trade at $1121 per ounce, while oil was down $.70 to trade at $46.05 per barrel WTI.
It appears that the stock market wants to test the Fed’s resolve as much as it wants to test last week’s lows. The next couple of weeks promise to remain volatile and jittery. Will the Fed be swayed by global concerns and a grumpy stock market? We’ll be buckled in on Tuesday, and we’ll let you know how the ramp up to Fed decision day proceeds. Stay tuned.
Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone, and remember markets are closed on Monday.