What to Expect from the May Jobs Report

The S&P 500 is up 1.4 percent this week.debt…Brendan McDermidt/Reuters

As they rallied this week after other signs that the labor market is continuing to cool, stock markets offered a preview of how investors might react to a possible drop in the number of new jobs added in May.

The S&P 500 rose 1.4 percent this week, and 10-year government bonds, which support borrowing costs across consumer and corporate debt, fell 0.2 percentage points — as the Federal Reserve cut interest rates.

Investors were betting on how soon the Fed could cut interest rates after data on Tuesday showed unemployment fell to the lowest level in more than three years.

Investors still expect interest rates to start cutting in September, but the challenge has increased that it will start as soon as July. Other central banks around the world have already started cutting rates Bank of Canada on Wednesday and the European Central Bank on Thursday. Analysts at Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase are among those predicting the Fed’s July action. (Fed policymakers meet next week to set rates, but most analysts believe they will leave rates unchanged.)

Some investors see the employment component of recent productivity surveys in the U.S. labor market and other data, such as the number of people voluntarily leaving jobs, indicating that the economy is beginning to flex.

The government’s monthly jobs data has become one of the publications on investors’ radar, seen as essential for assessing the path of inflation and interest rates.

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Investors and economists are already expecting a further slowdown in the number of new jobs added in May, and more data could come before the central bank meets in July, which some analysts said could be a big surprise to get a strong market reaction.

Already this week, Nvidia and Microsoft, both beneficiaries of artificial intelligence growth whose growth has been helped by low interest rates, have led the S&P 500 to new highs.

Nvidia on Wednesday became the third company behind Apple and Microsoft to have a market capitalization of more than $3 trillion, and was briefly worth more than Apple before Jupiter’s plunge. Microsoft is a $3.2 trillion company in the United States.

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