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  • Ballestas Group

December's Robust Employment Numbers Shake Confidence in Early Fed Rate Cuts

Markets reduced their bets that the US Federal Reserve will begin cutting rates as soon as March, as December non-farm payrolls rose by a larger-than-expected 216,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7%. Another sign that the U.S. labor market is cooling is reflected by job openings, which in November declined to 8.79 million from 8.85 million in October. This is the lowest level of unfilled job openings in more than two years. On the other hand, average hourly earnings increased 4.1% year-over-year. Prior to the data release, bond yields had risen all week due to strong issuance of investor-grade corporate debt in the U.S., but the jobs report helped briefly send yields back toward 4.1%. A substantial downward revision of 71,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in the prior two months mitigated somewhat the impact of the strong December report. Because of this, the odds of a March cut fell to 60%, when they had topped out at 100% in 2023.

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