January 17, 2019

Strong Hiring and Fed Chief’s Reassurance on Rates Delight Investors

But the latest report comes in the context of flashing yellow lights elsewhere, which Mr. Powell acknowledged on Friday. There is an unresolved trade war with China, a nation already contending with an economic downturn that could dampen global demand. In the United States, there is a slump in the housing sector, with hints that the auto industry could be next.

This week, Apple cut its revenue forecast for the first time in 16 years, citing flagging iPhone sales in China. Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said on CNN that Apple would not be the only victim of tensions with Beijing.

“There are a heck of a lot of U.S. companies that have a lot of sales in China that are basically going to be watching their earnings be downgraded next year until we get a deal with China,” Mr. Hassett said.

And on Thursday, the Institute for Supply Management released a survey showing the biggest drop in manufacturing activity since 2008. Many manufacturers blamed rising costs related to tariffs. (The index reading of 54.1 still showed an economy in expansion.) Measures of consumer confidence have also weakened recently.

The stock market has been in the midst of its worst decline since the financial crisis.

“We’re listening sensitively to the messages markets are sending,” Mr. Powell said Friday. But investors, he said, “are way ahead of the data.”

Indeed, economists insist that there is more to celebrate than to fret over. In recent months, the unemployment rate has been hovering near a 50-year nadir. (The jobless rate rose last month, to 3.9 percent, but largely because new workers barreled into the labor force, suggesting that companies are luring stragglers back.) Job openings have hit record highs, and a growing number of workers are quitting, indicating confidence in their ability to find jobs.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/04/business/economy/jobs-report.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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