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Mixed Payroll Data Offset by Unexpectedly High GDP Report, Gold Trades Under $1,500

The US private sector added 125,000 jobs in October, slightly above expectations of 190,000 to 120,000. Payroll gains the month prior were revised down significantly from 135,000 to just 93,000 according to Wednesday’s Moody Analytics report. While hiring data is mixed, the US economy appears to be performing better than expected with a Q3 GDP of 1.9% vs. 1.6% expected.

Key Takeaways

  • Payrolls came in at 125,000 for October and were revised down to 93,000 for September.
  • Total non-farm employment is expected to have increased by 85,000 in October.
  • US GDP for Q3 came in at 1.9% vs. 1.6% expected and 2% for Q2 2019.

The ADP figures come ahead of the U.S. Labor Department’s more comprehensive non-farm payrolls report on Friday, which includes both public and private-sector employment.

Economists polled by Reuters are looking for U.S. private payroll employment to have grown by 80,000 jobs in October, down from 114,000 the month before. Total non-farm employment is expected to have increased by 85,000. The unemployment rate is expected to rise from 3.5% to 3.6% in October.

GDP

The mixed payroll data indicates an ongoing hiring slowdown, but the US economy continues its record-breaking period of expansion. Q3 GDP came in above expectations at 1.9%, reportedly due to robust consumer spending and government spending. Personal consumption expenditures rose at 2.9% annually, while government spending rose 2%.

Business investment continued to decline as companies are unwilling to expose themselves to the uncertain economic climate of the US/China trade war which rages on. Business spending dropped -15.3% in Q3, casting a dour picture for institutional investment. Private domestic spending also continued to decline, dropping -1.5% after falling -6.3% in Q2. Residential investments rebounded to 5.1% growth after dropping -3% in Q2. The pace of equipment spending, however, fell -3.8%.

“For manufacturers, the biggest challenges remain finding skilled labor and trade uncertainties, which make it difficult to hire and expand business operations,” said Chad Moutray, chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers.

Imports, which subtract from GDP, rose in Q3. The latest trade deficit report shows an imbalance of $54.9 billion in August as imports outpaced exports for the entire month.

Consumer Spending

Consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of economic activity in the US, continues to bolster other struggling areas of the economy like manufacturing and business spending. The 2.9% growth in Q3 does mark a drop from the healthier 4.6% pace in Q2, fueling concerns of an economic slowdown. The trade war, along with worsening economic conditions seen worldwide, continue to negatively impact the US economy.

The Federal Reserve is still expected to cut interest rates following a two-day policy meeting ending on Wednesday, after cutting rates twice already this year to hedge against recessionary pressures. The central bank is expected to announce a quarter point rate cut following the policy meeting.

Market Reaction

Gold prices lost some momentum following the news, but continue to trade near the $1,500 mark. Spot gold last traded at $1,494.12/oz, up 0.48% with a high of $1,495.30/oz and a low of $1,487.14/oz. Prices may be seeing upward momentum following last night’s release of the October sentiment report from the Eurozone which is at the lowest point in over 4 years.