Friday, January 5, 2007

Did the Jobs Report End Rate Cut Speculation?

From CBSMarketWatch:

U.S. stocks ended sharply lower on the day and mixed on the shortened three-day trading week Friday, after news of surprising strength in the labor market in December fueled concerns that the Federal Reserve won't cut interest rates anytime soon.

A downgrade of Intel Corp. and a profit-warning from Motorola Inc. weighed on the technology sector.

"The jobs number has the market scared to some extent," said Owen Fitzpatrick, head of the U.S. equity group at Deutsche Bank. "The market has been happy with weak numbers recently, as it looked forward towards a possible rate cut at the Fed's March meeting."

There has been a fair amount of speculation the Fed would lower rates fairly soon. However the jobs report indicates the economy is doing at least fairly well. More importantly, the wages information may raise concern at the Fed about inflationary pressures.

In short, this may put the idea of a rate cut off a bit longer. The question is, "will this effectively put a ceiling on the markets?"