U.S. job creation has slowed this year, running about 167,000 a month, a quarter below the 2018 average. Still there’s no real sign that unemployment rates, near a 50-year low, are set to rise significantly. Non-farm payrolls, due on Dec. 6 are forecast to show 183,000 jobs were created in November, rebounding from October’s 128,000. Although the October figures were likely skewed by a strike at General Motors Co.
A forecast-beating number could further boost Wall Street, where stocks have repeatedly hit record highs. But markets are on the lookout for any signs of weakness; after all, labour markets are “not that strong everywhere,” UBS economists note, pointing to pockets of manufacturing and agriculture weakness.
PAIN MANAGERS INDEX
Manufacturing surveys will offer a checkup on Asia’s trade-war wounds, with the consensus forecast for a seventh straight month of shrinking factory activity in China, pressed by sluggish domestic demand and limp exports.
But the devil lurks in the detail. Caixin’s PMI, a separate survey with a focus on smaller businesses, is expected to show a fourth straight month of expansion, which would leave a picture that looks increasingly like a two-speed economy.
Big industry, dominated by lumbering state enterprises is shrinking, while private juggernauts such as Tencent Holdings Ltd., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and smaller e-commerce firms are soaring. Yet economic planners are biding their time, perhaps wary of creating a 2015-style runaway gravy train. While moves to ease monetary policy have so far been tentative, the PMIs may provide an additional push.
BIG OIL’S BIG DAY
Dec. 5 is shaping up to be a big day for oil markets. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries gathers for a policy meeting and the same day, OPEC’s biggest producer, Saudi Arabia, will give the final pricing for the IPO of state oil firm Aramco.
The IPO will be the elephant in the OPEC meeting room because the oil price at the time will be key to the listing, expected in mid-December.
A year ago, OPEC and non-OPEC countries agreed to lower crude supply by 1.2 million barrels a day to prop up prices in the face of slowing oil demand. In July they extended that deal until March, 2020.
Seasoned OPEC-watchers know never to exclude the possibility of a surprise decision but sources within the group seem pretty sure the supply-cut pact will be extended further into 2020. After all, an oil price tumble is something the Saudis won’t want to risk just as the Aramco shares list.