Employment Data Could Be a Make or Break Moment for U.S. Equities

A data-fueled Federal Reserve will certainly be keeping a close eye on the latest employment numbers as it ponders the possibility of more rate cuts that the capital markets are hoping for. While unemployment remains at a 50-year low, wage growth has been lagging and all this data could present a make or break moment for U.S. equities.

The Labor Department revealed that 164,000 jobs were added during the month of July while the unemployment rate was static at 3.7 percent. This represents a drop of a drop of about 61,000 or about 27 percent from June–will this hurt U.S. equities moving forward?

The rise of 164,000 during the month fell 1,000 below the 165,000 Dow Jones forecast and also matched the average monthly gain for the year. Last year, the economy created 223,000 jobs on a monthly basis.

Data also showed that wages continue to climb, with a 3.2% year-over-year gain that bested expectations by one-tenth of a percentage point. Average weekly hours moved lower to 34.3.

Still, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, weekly wages in the U.S. increased an average of 2.6% each year from 2008 to 2018. However, some economists are saying that wage growth has not kept pace with an increase in productivity as well as the cost of living.

“That means someone is getting more of the money,” said Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. “It is totally understandable why workers say ‘we ought to do something.’ I think the fear is: As bad as things are now they could get worse and that if we don’t do something preemptively we’re in for even more difficulties.”

For investors sensing continued upside in U.S. equities over international equities, the Direxion FTSE Russell US Over International ETF (NYSEArca: RWUI) offers them the ability to benefit not only from domestic U.S. markets potentially performing well, but from their outperformance compared to international markets. For investors looking to play the international equities over U.S. equities angle, the Direxion FTSE International Over US ETF (NYSEArca: RWIU) gives investors the opportunity to capitalize on this hunch.

The news of the rate cut comes after the U.S. economy added 170,000 nonfarm payrolls and the unemployment rate currently stands at a low 3.7 percent. The Commerce Department recently reported that Gross domestic product (GDP) fell during the second quarter to 2.1 percent, but still bested Wall Street analysts who were expecting a larger decline. GDP fell from 3.1 percent in the first quarter, which represents the weakest increase since the first quarter of 2017.

The central bank cited “implications of global developments for the economic outlook as well as muted inflation pressures.” The Fed also said it would “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion,” which meant that future rate cuts could take place.

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