Market Update – 3rd July 2020.

It has been a very busy 24 hours for economic data, the biggest of which was the US non-farm payroll data for June.

In short, the data conclusively showed us that the US economy has definitely turned a corner and is currently on course for a V-shaped recovery (i.e. sharp rebound in economic activity), which is obviously very positive for equity markets.

June’s non-farm payroll data showed an absolutely stunning improvement with 4.8m jobs added in June – and in the process, reduced the unemployment rate down to 11.1%.

Furthermore, the data reading for May was revised up from a gain of 2.51m to 2.7m.

Interestingly, average wages dropped 1.2% in June which suggests to us that low income workers have been the main beneficiaries of hiring (as the average earnings rose sharply in April at the height of the lay-off phase) – i.e. jobs in restaurants, hairdressers and retail.

As for the weekly jobless data, initial jobless claims ticked down last week to 1.43m from 1.48m.  The only thorn in the data was the continuing claims number which was almost static at 19.29m.

While overall this data was fantastic and there is still plenty of room for further massive employment gains in the coming months, there is also a growing risk that this size of employment gain won’t be repeated in July’s data because of the continuing spread of the coronavirus across America – which may slow the economic recovery from a ‘V’ shape to a ‘Nike Swoosh’ (i.e. still a strong recovery, just slightly slower).

This worry was clearly evident in equity markets as the tug-of-war continued to yo-yo markets:  Wall Street exploded higher at the opening bell, but the excitement drooped towards the end of the day after it was announced that the number of daily coronavirus cases in the US topped 50,000 – which must inevitably put some of the reopening plans on hold, if they aren’t reversed.  The Dow Jones, having been up nearly 500 points shortly after the opening bell, closed up just 92 points, or 0.36%, while the broader S&P 500 index closed up 0.45% – and this has followed through into the UK equity market this morning, as the FTSE-100 is currently trading just over 60 points, or 1%, lower – and in the process reversing the bulk of yesterday’s gain.

Investment Management Team

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