Did hiring in the United States accelerate in February?
Hires in the United States rose sharply in February from the previous month, economists forecast ahead of the monthly jobs report due on Friday.
After the country lost 227,000 jobs in December, hires rebounded in January – albeit with a modest gain of 49,000 jobs – as the rise in coronavirus infections declined and vaccinations accelerated.
Economists polled by Bloomberg predict that the United States will add 145,000 jobs in February, pushing the unemployment rate by 1 percentage point to 5.3%. If these forecasts hold, it would mark the highest rate of hiring since November.
The prospect of a resurgence was reinforced by data released last Thursday showing unemployment benefit claims for the first time fell to their lowest level for three months in the week ending February 20.
The job market stumbled in the home stretch of 2020 under the weight of the pandemic’s rise in the fall, which resulted in tighter restrictions on business and social activity across the United States.
The leisure and hospitality sector alone shed 597,000 jobs in December and January, according to labor ministry figures, while January wage gains were concentrated in public employment and professional services and commercial.
However, the outlook is brighter for the coming months, especially with the expected passage of the Biden administration’s $ 1.9 billion stimulus package, which last week won backing from a large group of senior Wall Street executives, and further advances in immunization.
“American households seemed quite nervous at the end of 2020, as the cocktail of deteriorating health conditions, weakening employment and the expiry of tax assistance weighed on private sector confidence. and restricted mobility, ”Oxford Economics analysts said. “Fortunately, we see hope on all three fronts.” Matthew rocco
Will euro zone inflation continue to rise?
Eurozone inflation hit its highest level since the coronavirus pandemic began in January, after five months of falling prices. On Tuesday, the bloc’s statistical agency will release a preliminary estimate of the February level, which is expected to continue the uptrend.
Many economists predict a steady increase over the spring due to rising energy costs, continued supply chain disruptions that have increased costs for retailers and manufacturers, and the reversal of a reduction of VAT in Germany.
“For euro zone inflation, the only way is to increase,” said Carsten Brzeski, economist at ING, who predicted that headline consumer price inflation in the bloc would reach 1.3% in February. , after an 11-month high of 0.9% in January. .
Claus Vistesen, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said a further increase in the price of oil – the international benchmark Brent is up more than 30% this year – could be the main driver of inflation in the months to come up.
A shift in the inflation basket of goods and services is also in play. The 2021 basket shows that people consume more food, where prices rise, and less recreational activities, where prices generally fall.
The European Central Bank forecast price growth to rise to 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter of this year before falling back to 1.2 percent a year later – still below its lower target but close to 2 percent. hundred.
“The ECB will not consider raising its key rates until Eurozone inflation expectations and wage inflation have risen substantially and persistently,” said Andrew Kenningham, economist at Capital Economics . “It’s probably several years away.” Valentina romei
Can the copper bull run continue?
If, as the commodity market adage goes, the cure for high prices is higher prices, where does that leave copper?
The world’s most important industrial metal, used in everything from electric vehicles to power cables, has risen by more than 100% from its pandemic low in March of last year.
Last week, it hit a 10-year high above $ 9,500 a tonne before retreating as speculators stacked up and a Chinese brokerage firm amassed a $ 1 billion long position on the Shanghai Futures Exchange.
A growing number of banks and brokers believe the uptrend will continue and copper will surpass its all-time high of $ 10,190 reached in February 2011.
Citi and Goldman Sachs both forecast large supply shortfalls for 2021 that would further drain already low inventories of the metal, citing strong demand from China but also from the rest of the world as economic strain from the coronavirus pandemic s ‘attenuates.
Unlike previous cycles, a shortage of “off the shelf” copper projects means that an influx of supply is not going to hit the market and push prices down. On the contrary, even higher prices may be needed to stimulate production of low-grade minerals in remote areas of the world where it is difficult to build a mine.
“It takes 15 years between discovery and navigation of approvals to finally set up a development in our industry,” said Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani. “So you can’t just wiggle your nose. It takes high prices, but it also takes time. ” Neil Hume