Interactive Investor

Will this US jobs data soothe sickly president?

2nd October 2020 14:53

Keith Bowman from interactive investor

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Here's how investors see the last US jobs report before the November election.

US monthly jobs report

News that US President Donald Trump had tested positive for coronavirus threatened to completely overshadow US jobs data for September, the last monthly report before the 3 November Presidential elections.  

A gain of 661,000 new jobs last month fell short of the consensus estimate among economist for 900,000 jobs added. 

The return of school and college workers at the start of the new educational year usually features highly in the September figures. Ongoing study from home orders under the pandemic may have left some teaching and facilities staff surplus to requirements, potentially accounting for the lower than forecast headline number. 

However, the unemployment rate fell to 7.9% from a previous 8.4%, beating forecasts of a drop to 8.2%, leaving the jobs report broadly mixed in tone. 

US S&P 500 futures prices, which were already pointing lower by around 1.4% following the Covid news regarding Trump and the First Lady, moved little in the immediate wake of the jobs report. However, traders were more optimistic at the opening bell, and Wall Street narrowed losses in early deals.

The job numbers came in a week when global icons such as Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Royal Dutch Shell (LSE:RDSB) had announced significant job losses.

The oil price proved a notable casualty following news regarding President Trump. Brent crude was down around 2% to $40.53 per barrel in early trading. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had tested negative for Covid-19, and Reuters reports that President Trump continues to work from the White House. 

Uncertainty regarding an already bitter Presidential election has now been raised further, with Trump’s attendance at voter rallies now in doubt. 

It will also be interesting to watch the polls and monitor any psychological impact on US consumers of a Covid struck President. 

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