Australian Dollar takes an NFP tumble

After a miserable end to the week, the Aussie is steady on Monday and is trading at 0.6912.

The January US nonfarm payrolls was a blowout that shocked the markets. The economy created a stunning 517,000 new jobs, crushing the estimate of 185,000 and well above the previous read of 260,000. The unemployment rate fell from 3.5% to 3.4%, its lowest rate since 1969. There was more positive news as the ISM Services PMI climbed back into expansion territory with a reading of 55.2, up from 49.2 and above the forecast of 50.4 points.

The US dollar surged against most of the major currencies after the employment report, while equity markets were down. The Australian dollar plunged by 2.2% on Friday. There had been speculation that the Fed might deliver a “one and done” rate hike in March which would end the current rate-hike cycle, but the job report has poured cold water on those hopes. The labour market is running much too hot for the Fed’s liking and wage growth remains an important driver of inflation. Fed member Mary Daly called the employment release a “wow number” and said that the Fed’s December forecast of a peak rate of 5.1% was a “good indicator” of Fed policy.

RBA expected to raise rates

The RBA will be in the spotlight on Tuesday with its monthly rate announcement. The central bank is expected to raise rates by 25 basis points, which would bring rates to 3.35%, a 10-year high. This would mark a fourth straight hike of 25 bp, as the RBA continues to fight inflation with steady but modest rate hikes. There are signs that rising interest rates are starting to bite the economy, with today’s retail sales release of -3.9% the latest reminder. The cash rate is projected to peak around 3.6%, although it could rise further if inflation remains stickier than expected. The employment market remains robust, allowing the central bank to continue raising rates as it sees fit.

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