Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Friday, March 8:

 

 

1. Another solid jobs report expected, focus on wages

All eyes will be on the U.S. employment report for February to be released at 8:30 AM ET (13:30 GMT) which is expected to show another solid month of growth, despite a slowdown in payroll growth.

Economists forecast that the economy added 181,000 jobs last month, pushing the unemployment rate down slightly to 3.9%.

Barring a big beat or miss on payrolls, the market focus should be on wage growth, which is expected to have heated up in February. Wage inflation so far has lagged expectations given the tight U.S. labor market, allowing the Federal Reserve to be patient with policy tightening.

Average hourly earnings are expected to rise 0.3% for the month, bringing the year-over-year gain in earnings to 3.3%. Policymakers are watching the annualized reading closely to gauge upward pressure on inflation.

Released at the same time, traders will pay close attention to data that gauges fragility seen in the housing market.

Economists expect that housing starts jumped 9.9% in January. But building permits, an indicator of future demand, are forecast to have fallen 2.9%.

2. China adds to global economic gloom

China delivered more signs of economic weakness overnight with its trade data for February. Exports fell the most in three years, while the world’s second largest economy and largest trading nation also saw imports decline for a third consecutive month.

The data added to concerns over global economic outlook after China already cut its 2019 forecast for growth to a range of 6% to 6.5% earlier in the week, down from 6.6% in 2018.

Developments in trade were no more encouraging, as the U.S. ambassador in Beijing briefed media that a summit tentatively scheduled for the end of the month between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping had been pushed back, as the two sides weren't confident of reaching a deal by then.

 

3. Stocks drop as China data stokes global slowdown fears

Chinese trade data increased worries over the global slowdown, driving stocks lower on Friday. Asian stocks tumbled with China’s Shanghai Composite leading the decline with 4.4% tumble, while Japan’s Nikkei ended down 2%.

European stocks followed the general malaise as a surprise slump in German factory orders reinforced the woeful sentiment, sending indices lower.

U.S. futures also pointed to a lower open as investors waited the latest reading on the American labor market. At 5:39 AM ET (10:39 GMT), the blue-chip Dow futures fell 97 points, or 0.38%, S&P 500 futures lost 11 points, or 0.40%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures traded down 37 points, or 0.53%.

Oil companies are particularly in focus after Norway's government said its sovereign wealth fund should sell its shares in oil and gas companies to focus on more environmentally sustainable investment.

 

4. Euro attempts recovery from 21-month lows

The euro registered a slight bounce against the dollar on Friday, recovering from 21-month lows hit a day earlier as the European Central Bank cut its growth forecasts and failed to convince markets that its plans to support lending would give the economy any meaningful support.

At 5:40 AM ET (10:40 GMT), EUR/USD gained 0.20% at $1.1213. It had hit a low of $1.1171 overnight, its lowest against the dollar in nearly two years.

The ECB’s forecast validated market fears of a global economic slowdown that were further reinforced by Chinese data overnight and its actions, while meant to soothe nerves, only served to draw attention to the lack of progress in the region at addressing its institutional and structural flaws.

Mixed European data released Friday allowed the single currency to take a breather. An unexpected decline in German factory orders appeared to be offset by better-than-expected industrial production data from the other three largest euro zone economies, FranceItaly and Spain.

Read more: Will NFP Drive Euro Lower Than ECB? - Kathy Lien

 

5. Oil slides as economic weakness ups fears of lower demand

Crude prices slumped on Friday as the negative Chinese data stoked worries of the negative impact on demand from the world’s largest oil importer.

U.S. crude oil futures fell 94 cents, or 1.66%, to $55.72 by 5:40 AM ET (10:40 GMT), while Brent oil traded down $1.22, or 1.84%, to $65.08.

Along with the string of negative signs for the global economy, investors are watching escalating production in the U.S. that remains at record highs.

Baker Hughes will release its weekly rig count data, an early indicator of future output, at 1:00 PM ET (18:00 GMT).

March 19, 2019
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