Employment Data At 8:30 AM

By: Kent Engelke | Capitol Securities

Markets were relieved the tariffs are not as onerous as first expected. President Trump followed through on his pledge to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, while excluding Canada and Mexico and leaving the door open to sparing other countries if they met one on one with the US.

In some regards, the President is utilizing the time honed strategy of brinkmanship. As I commented the other day, I am a free trade advocate, but I do not have a clue as to whether or not free trade actually occurs. To comment is meaningless, but to comment about the environment is perhaps informational.

What is documented, during the Cold War America permitted the dumping of products on our markets to lessen the probability of a communist takeover for such was more palpable and cheaper than conflict. As noted the other day, some believe this concept morphed during the last eight years in an attempt at global wealth redistribution.

The issue at hand is the global economic infrastructure is based upon today’s policies and any change will be tectonic. All have learned to live in the current structure regardless if it is “fair” or not. There are billions of dollars in sunken costs that may or may not be recovered if current rules change, rules that indicate whether or not “free trade” actually exists.

Today all will focus on the all-inclusive February GDP data that is released at 8:30. Analysts are expecting a 205k increase in farm and non-farm payrolls, a 4.0% unemployment rate, a 0.2% increase in hourly earnings, a 34.4 hourly work week and a 62.7% labor participation rate. Will the data confirm January’s statistics?

Last night the foreign markets were mixed. London was down 0.05%, Paris was up 0.03% and Frankfurt was down 0.38%. China was up 0.57%, Japan was up 0.47% and Hang Sang was up 1.11%.

The Dow should open flat, but this could change dramatically if the 8:30 data is sharply different than consensus. The 10-year is off 5/32 to yield 2.89%.