US: Strong economic fundamentals remain intact

5 min

The economy continues to exhibit strength as 200,000 jobs were created in January, exceeding expectations of 180,000, while December was revised up from 148,000 to 160,000. Gains were widespread, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1%, and the labor force surged by a massive +518,000, the most in over two years. But most importantly wages grew a solid +0.3% m/m to +2.9% y/y, finally returning to pre-recession rates after almost nine years. The increase in wages led to fears in the stock market over higher inflation and interest rates, possibly sparking a two-day stampede for the exits which was partially reversed on Tuesday. The stock market often separates from economic fundamentals and is a poor indicator of the future. Most recently for example, the ISM manufacturing and non-manufacturing indexes were 59.1 and 59.9 points, respectively, both led by new orders well into the 60s. Our forecast of +2.6% GDP growth and 3-4 Fed rate hikes this year remains intact.