What a week. 😰
Every major global equity index ended the week lower. Looks like the October effect is already in full swing.
Talk of a potential recession in the US, EU and UK intensified, with a number of economic data releases showing key western economies aren't in the greatest of shape right now. Oh, and the Trade War + Brexit continue to loom in the background, too.
With so many global economic data releases, let's briefly(!) look at the 2 key pieces which moved markets this week:
Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)
- This is a monthly survey of business leaders across manufacturing and services sectors, asking them questions on employment and broader activity levels for the businesses which they manage.
- It's regarded as an important indicator of likely economic activity - and GDP - in the coming months.
- This week's triple (US, EU, UK) whammy 💥 was delivered over the course of Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday:
- The US Manufacturing PMI figure for September came in exceptionally weak, pointing to a contraction in the manufacturing sector. Meanwhile, the US Services PMI also came in weaker than expected, although it signalled a slowdown in the growth of the Services sector as opposed to a full blown contraction. Overall - not great.
- The UK composite PMI for September (consisting of an average of manufacturing, services and construction PMIs) came in lower than the previous figure in August, and pointed to a 0.1% decline in GDP.
- The same composite PMI reading for the EU also came in lower than the previous month and below market expectations, signalling the Euro Area economy is also on the edge of a recession. This was driven primarily by weakness in German and French Services sectors.
- At this point, investors were running for the exits in droves, selling holdings of stocks almost indiscriminately with all major economic data seemingly pointing towards a looming recession.
- Which explains why stock indices across the US, EU and UK were between 2% - 5% lower for the week by close of business on Thursday. Cue the monthly US jobs report on Friday...
US Non-Farm Payrolls (NFPs)
- This is the monthly US jobs report, published on the first Friday of each month.
- It is one of the most eagerly watched pieces of economic data in the calendar and a primary indicator of the strength of the US labour market. Happy employees = happy consumers, after all...
- The report details information on the net number of people entering employment, the unemployment rate and average wage growth for the US economy. Let's look at each of these metrics:
- Entering employment: the US economy added 136,000 new jobs, lower than expectations of 145,000 jobs, but not the end of the world - especially given US unemployment has been at historic lows...
- Unemployment rate: US unemployment fell to 3.5% in September - the lowest figure in 50 years, bringing this week's biggest sigh of relief for investors all across the world.
- Wage growth: came in at 2.9%, lower than the expected 3.2% but again - not the end of the world.
- In a world with little-to-no positive economic data, investors were keen to end the week on a positive note by focussing on the historically low US unemployment rate.
- Some of the doom-and-gloom sentiment from earlier in the week was promptly erased, with most major stock exchanges recovering *some* of the week's losses to climb 0.5% - 1% on Friday.
- While the somewhat-positive US jobs report offered some breathing room - its neither here nor there, and doesn't address underlying economic slowdowns in some of the worlds largest economies. At least its a gradual slowdown as opposed to frantic falling-off-a-cliff 🤷🏻♂️
So - what might help steer us clear of a recession?
- Central banks, by reducing interest rates or printing money (a.k.a using monetary policy)
- Governments, by increasing spending to boost the economy (a.k.a Fiscal Policy)
- Safe to say governments in the UK and US are distracted with political affairs at the moment, but European countries have been showing some signs of increased spending, with Angela Merkel announcing a €50bn green spending plan recently. And there may be more to come.
- International Trade Relations
- A resolution to the Brexit saga (one day, eventually, when pigs finally start flying 🐷)
- US and China trade relations
- With a presidential election year just around the corner, Donald Trump would do well to force through a trade deal which would undoubtedly boost both global stock markets as well as his chances of being re-elected.
- Signs have been positive so far, with China buying US commodities as a gesture of goodwill and the US pushing back the next round of planned tariffs in return 👫With this in mind, we will be watching next week's trade negotiations between the US and China, with the Trump administration seemingly keen to come to the negotiating table in a co-operative spirit. 🍿🥤👀