The big jobs report – set to be released Friday morning – could be a lose-lose situation for stocks that already have had a rough week.
If the jobs numbers are bad, that could dampen the market’s outlook and take down stocks further.
But if the jobs report is good, that could lead to higher interest rates because Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen is keeping an eye on wage growth to determine the Fed’s next move. If wage growth is too high, we could start to see higher interest rates. That in turn could hurt stocks.
So, what’s the number to look for?
Erin Gibbs, equity chief investment officer at S&P Capital IQ, believes that something near a 3 percent growth rate in wages would be what gets the market to move rates higher.
“Everything really hinges on Friday’s numbers,” Gibbssaid. “Certainly if we see a number like 2.7 to 2.8 [percent]…. I think people will view that more positively and, in that anticipation, start to push [yields] up.”
If wage growth is just a little lower, that may keep bonds chilled, according to Gibbs. “If we still see a number low – 2 to 2.2 [percent] – I don’t see the bond market moving really fast,” she said.
But Steven Pytlar, chief equity strategist at Prime Executions, thinks the technicals are already pointing to higher rates.
Investors are “shifting capital into areas that would benefit from that and away from areas that would be negatively impacted by that,” Pytlar said. That includes “strong moves higher in the U.S. dollar and moves lower in sectors that are negatively impacted by interest rates such as utilities and consumer staples.”
S&P 500 stocks in the utilities sector fell 2.9 percent since the start of the week while consumer staples were down 3.7 percent.
“It looks like [money] is coming potentially out of bonds and into areas that are economically sensitive,” Pytlar added. “And out of areas like utilities and consumer staples that would be negatively impacted by higher rates.”
To see the full discussion on interest rates, with Gibbs on the fundamentals and Pytlar on the technicals, watch the above video.