Weak US Employment Data Means No Fed Rate Hike in 2015?
After the release of US non-farm payrolls on Friday (02/10) markets are starting to doubt whether the Federal Reserve has room to raise its key Fed Fund Rate at all in 2015. In September a total of 142,000 jobs were added to the US economy, well below the market consensus of 201,000. Moreover, August non-farm payrolls were revised down to 136,000 (from 173,000 initially). It was the first time since mid-2013 that US jobs grew at such a slow pace in two consecutive months. So far in 2015 US non-farm payrolls grew at an average of 198,000 per month, significantly down from the average growth pace of 260,000 per month last year.
Furthermore, the US employment rate remained at 5.1 percent in September while the average hourly earnings for employees on private non-farm payrolls declined by one percent to USD $25.09.
This means that the Federal Reserve has been given good reasons to postpone an interest rate hike. The US central bank has always said that such a hike is data-dependent, primarily on unemployment and inflation data. Last week, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen stated that the Fed was on track to raise its key rate from the current historic low of 0.0 - 0.25 percent before the end of the year. However, she added that this decision depends on domestic macroeconomic data and not so much on global conditions (this statement was in contrast to the September Federal Reserve minutes which signal that the Fed postponed a rate hike at its September policy meeting on the back of global financial market turmoil caused by China's hard landing and low commodity prices). With the latest weak US employment data it now seems that the domestic context too is not conducive for an interest rate hike, unless there will be a marked improvement in the last two months of the year.
Based on the trading of interest rate futures and rising US treasury debt prices (with falling benchmark yields), investors now believe that the US central bank will raise its benchmark rate next year, most likely after March 2016.
Wall Street, on the other hand, surged. Due to the expected delay of a Fed rate hike the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.23 percent, Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 1.43 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite 1.74 percent. Meanwhile, the US dollar weakened.
This latest news from the US should be a (temporary) sigh of relieve for emerging markets. These markets have been plagued by capital outflows due to looming higher US interest rates. However, as there emerged speculation about a longer hike delay, these markets should see capital inflows on the short term.