New York City experienced rain and overcast skies over the last five days, and this gloomy attitude was reflected in the stock market as well. Clearly the Street doesn't know how to feel about the slew of economic data this week, capping off of course with the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) employment report for May 2015. We are now back in a mindset where any positive data causes a selloff because the market is fearful of higher interest rates and any negative news causes a rally since they know the Fed won't take any action in the near-term.
Overall, the major equity indices have moved off of session lows following the BLS jobs report; however, the tech-heavy NASDAQ remains the biggest winner today. In China, the Shanghai Composite Index is booming, finally jumping above the 5,000-level for the first time since January 18, 2008. Year-to-date, China's stock market is up 55% and over the last year up 146% - all this amid a housing crisis and weak industrial data.
Additionally, Greece has managed to arrange a deferment in its payment to the International Monetary Fund (NYSE:IMF). The first of its four payments to the IMF was due today, but Greece has negotiated that all of its payments be lumped together and the 1.5-billion euro payment will be made by June 30th - who knows, but they've been successful in dodging bullets so far.
So, it appears that the tables have turned and now the hawks in the Federal Reserve definitely have some ammunition for the June meeting since the May jobs report was quite strong, not only in terms of payroll growth but also due to an uptick in wage pressures. For the month of May, nonfarm payrolls increased by 280,000 which was well above the consensus estimate for 220,000 and close to the top of the consensus forecast range of 289,000. Net revisions for the last two months were also higher by 32,000. While still far from robust, another positive sign was some more strength in the labor participate rate, which rose by 10 basis points to 62.9% for the month. The unemployment rate ultimately ticked 10 basis points higher to 5.5%, but this ultimately reflects an overall gain in the labor force for both those who found a job and those who are looking for a job.
Average hourly earnings came in at the high end of expectations, growing by 0.3% for the month, while year-over-year earnings are up 2.3%. This growth rate in wages was only matched twice during the recovery; the last time was back in August 2013. This substantial growth in wages will be the centerpiece of the Fed hawks arguments at this month's meeting. While today's results won't be enough to make the Fed raise rates in June, it should be enough to spark a serious conversation about seeking a rate hike in September. Nevertheless, none of it is enough to stop the volatility today.