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Strong nonfarm payrolls report throws rate cut timeline of the Federal Reserve into question 

June 10, 2024

Key points: 

  • US nonfarm payrolls exceed expectations with 272,000 new jobs in May. 
  • Strong job gains complicate the trajectory of the anticipated rate cut by the Federal Reserve. 
  • A high interest rate prospects boost the US dollar and impact gold and the stock market. 

The Federal Reserve’s rate cut timeline has been thrown back into uncertainty after the latest US nonfarm payrolls report significantly exceeded expectations. Analysts had predicted 180,000 to 185,000 new jobs for May, but the actual figure came in at a robust 272,000, far surpassing 175,000 in April.

This unexpected strength in job gains complicates the anticipated pathway to reducing borrowing costs by the Fed, potentially delaying the first interest rate cut deeper into the year. 

Investors had been hoping for another cool jobs report to follow the moderate figure in April, which would have provided two consecutive months of soft job growth. Such a trend would have supported the case for the Federal Reserve to start cutting interest rates.

Instead, the stronger-than-expected job numbers have reignited concerns about an overheating economy, which could prompt the Fed to maintain a high interest rate for longer. 

Related article: Interest rate tug-of-war for central banks 

How markets responded to the jobs data 

The implications of this particular jobs report are multifaceted. Firstly, the prospects of high interest rates have strengthened the US dollar across the board.

The US dollar index (Symbol: USDX) rose sharply, indicating heightened expectations that the Fed will need to keep rates high to manage economic growth and inflation. 

Chart showing the U.S. dollar index (USDX) with a significant upward trend. The chart features various technical indicators such as moving averages (5, 10, 20, 30), a volume histogram, and the MACD indicator (12, 26, 9). The price opened at 104.06, closed at 105.058, reached a high of 105.128, and had a low of 104.985. The trend indicates a 0.96% increase, reflecting market reactions to the stronger-than-expected nonfarm payrolls report, which has implications for the Federal Reserve's interest rate decisions.

Image above shows the strength in the US dollar index, as observed on the VT Markets app

The greenback gained significantly, erasing the week’s advances made by the euro and pushing the USD/JPY towards the 157.00 mark after briefly dipping below 155.00. This appreciation in the dollar reflects heightened investor expectations that the Fed will need to keep rates higher to manage economic growth and inflation. 

Gold (Symbol: XAUUSD) prices also reacted to the news, with the precious metal diving from $2,350 to $2,315 per ounce. The decline in gold prices is indicative of the anticipation of sustained higher interest rates, which typically diminish the appeal of non-yielding assets like gold. 

The stock market also had pre-market gains wiped out following the release of the jobs report. The stronger-than-expected job growth suggests a resilient economy, which while positive, also means a greater chance that the Federal Reserve might delay any rate cuts, impacting market sentiment and stock valuations. 

The immediate impact of the strong nonfarm payrolls report is likely to be continued strength in the US dollar and potential weakness in gold and stock markets as market participants adjust to the prospect of delayed rate cuts.

In these circumstances, the decision from the Federal Reserve next week will be crucial. If the Fed signals a willingness to maintain higher rates for longer, sustained strength in the US dollar and continued pressure on gold and equities would be likely.  

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