By Carlos Guillen
Quite impressively, equity markets are holding firmly in winning territory so far into today's trading session despite employment data that indicated a slowing jobs backdrop. As it stands, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up over 30 points, and it appears that investors are banking on the increasing likelihood that there will be no tapering this year.
The highly awaited government jobs reports was finally released today, after being delayed more than two weeks as a result of the government entering shutdown mode, and the results were rather mixed. According to this tardy data from the Department of Labor, the unemployment rate in September was 7.2 percent, lower than the 7.3 percent reported for August and below the Street's consensus estimate of 7.3 percent. While a decreasing unemployment rate would be typically considered a positive action, the problem is that the participation rate is not improving. And next month, given the government shutdown, we can expect this rate to experience large volatility.
Perhaps the more discouraging aspect of the jobs data was that non-farm payroll employment in September (derived from the establishment survey) increased by much less than expected. The report showed that the increase in non-farm payrolls was 148,000 while the Street's consensus called for a gain of 183,000. The non-farm private payroll gains were 126,000, also landing well below economists' forecast of 183,000. This result was also lower than that presented by ADP over two weeks ago, which also landed worse than Street estimates. According to ADP, 166,000 private sector jobs were gained during September, below the Street's consensus estimate calling for a gain of 170,000 jobs.
In all, the September unemployment data appears to be refueling the discussions of Fed tapering as the combination of all these results, together with the government shutdown will very likely extend the Fed's bond purchasing procedures. As it stands, the word on the Street is that the discussion of Fed tapering is shifting from whether the Fed would start to pull back on its easing efforts this year, to how long into 2014 the Fed will wait. This is continuing to fuel stocks as it always does, but a deteriorating jobs market is nothing to cheer for. We can also expect October's jobs data to reflect lots of noise created by the government shutdown, and in turn we can be pretty certain there will be no tapering this year.