This is Mark Vickery covering for Sheraz Mian, who will be away on business until the second week of December.
The private-sector payroll numbers released this morning by ADP (ADP) posted a positive surprise for November, and revised October’s total upward for good measure. Good news for the economy. If you want to jump ahead and assume it’s bad news for the market, just hold your horses, buster.
First off, ADP’s jobs report of 215,000 jobs created in November blew away expectations of 178,000 — a 21% positive surprise. And October’s relatively paltry 130,000 has been revised up to 184,000, as well. Both Construction and Manufacturing rose by 18K last month, and for Manufacturing it’s easily the best performance all year.
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By size of business, small firms produced the most new jobs: 102K, followed by large businesses: 65K and medium-sized companies: 48K. Professional/Business Services rose by 38K in the month. Good news all around, right? Right!
OK, so the Fed may begin tapering sooner than many had been thinking recently, which means support for current market levels may begin to waver, implying a stock sell-off (like the one yesterday over a prolonged period). Keeping one’s eyes open for roadblocks is obviously an important thing — you wouldn’t drive your car blindfolded, but no one should really fear not being able to get themselves home.
Analysts this morning mentioned they’ll be looking for signs of reducing the $85 billion Fed buyback of bonds sometime in Q1-14, but not before. Should Friday’s Bureau of Labor Statistics non-farm payroll numbers be 20+% above expectations, perhaps you might expect this rhetoric to amp up a bit. But ultimately, a strengthening economy is the type of tide that raises all boats.
Elsewhere, the U.S. trade deficit came pretty much in line with expectations at $40.6 billion. Both imports and exports were up moderately in the month. The previous month (September) was raised to $43 billion.
Basically, we still rule, it’s holiday season, and trade volumes will begin to dwindle at least until investors need to configure their tax situation for next year. 2013 was likely decent for your portfolio (as it was for ours), and with a strengthening economy for 2014, we expect good things in the new year.