US employers ramped up their payrolls and employment climbed 236,000 in February, a report from the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics showed on Friday. This came as a surprise as median forecast by analysts and economists were for a 162,000 advance. Unemployment rate has slid to 7.7 percent from January’s 7.9 percent reading. The US unemployment rate has stayed in the 7 percent mark for 6 consecutive months now.
In other news, Statistics Canada reported that employers has gone back to adding jobs in February, with employment rising 50,700 after it declined 21,900 in January. This rebound in jobs growth is the third highest figure in the last 10 months. Unemployment rate has steadied at 7 percent.
The European Central Bank, Bank of England, and Bank of Japan made their interest rate decisions this week. All three central banks maintained their rates, at 0.75 percent, 0.50 percent, and less than 0.10 percent, respectively. Next announcement for all three central banks would come in April 4. Meanwhile, Reserve Bank of Australia and Bank of Canada also retained the rates, at 3 percent and 1 percent respectively, and would have their next decisions announced on April 2 and April 17.
Gold has gone very quiet this week as trading became confined mostly between $1,560 and $1,585 – a mere $25 range for the most part. It would be quite interesting to see which side comes away victorious in the coming few weeks. $1,550 is the key area on the downside, while bulls would have to face $1,620 and $1,650 before other resistances on the topside.
Unlike Gold, Oil has fared a little better this week as it managed to climb towards $92 after being confined in a range battle around the $90s in the first half of the week. The lower-$89s has been well-supported by buyers and this gave them the base for a move higher. $92 has been hit in transit but price ended the week slightly lower at $91.84. $93 and $94.50 are the next targets higher as long as the $89-$90 area holds.
EURUSD had an uninspiring week as bulls failed to cement the move higher to the 1.3100s during Thursday and Friday. The pair spent most of its time in the 1.3000s and in fact the week closed at 1.3003, about 8 pips lower than its open. Buyers need to act decisively this coming week, otherwise the chances of 1.3000 breaking convincingly grows further.
After trading to the downside last week, the rollercoaster ride has come full circle as USDJPY made another milestone this week. The pair has zoomed 360 pips higher, broke the key 95 level, and reached as high as 96.54 before settling back to the 95s and closing the week at 95.97. USDJPY is not set to create a fresh 41-month high if buyers can reach 98.
GBPUSD has created four lower weekly highs and four bearish weekly closes, and yet bears seem eager for more destruction. This week, sellers pressed lower and reached 1.4883, just a few pips shy of July 2010’s 1.4872 low. Bulls now need to make drastic steps to prevent further price declines, but so far there is not much holding bears back from reaching 1.4200 to 1.4600.
The Week Ahead
Starting March 10, Canada and the United States will implement the Daylight Savings time shift and clocks will move ahead by 1 hour.
This time around, Monday will have a sparse amount of critical news releases, such as Japan’s Core machinery Orders, China’s New Loans, Germany’s Trade balance, France’s Industrial Production, and Switzerland’s Retail Sales.
On Tuesday, there will be Japan’s BSI Manufacturing Index, Consumer Confidence, and BOJ Policy Meeting Minutes; UK’s RICS House Price Balance, Trade Balance, and Manufacturing Production; Australia’s NAB Business Confidence; and US Federal Budget Balance.
Wednesday is also concise this week with Australia’s Westpac Consumer Sentiment, Euro-area’s Industrial Production, and US Retail Sales, Business Inventories, and Import Prices.
On the other hand, Thursday and Friday will be much busier. For Thursday, there are New Zealand’s Interest Rate Announcement,, Statement, and Press Conference; Australia’s Employment data; Switzerland’s Libor Rate and SNB Monetary Policy Assessment; ECB Monthly Bulletin; EU Economic Summit; Canada’s NHPI; US PPI, Unemployment Claims, and Current Account.
On Friday, there are New Zealand’s Business NZ Manufacturing Index; Switzerland’s PPI; Euro-area and US CPI; US Capacity Utilization Rate, TIC Long-term Purchases, Empire State Manufacturing Index, and Preliminary University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment.