U.S. equities traded higher as markets opened Friday to a disappointing employment report. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 151,000 in August, and the unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent, versus expectations of 180,000 jobs and a decrease in the unemployment rate to 4.8 percent.
Earlier in the week, a report from the Institute of Supply Management showed U.S. factory activity contracted for the first time in six months during August, as new orders and production tumbled. Motor vehicle sales also showed signs of weakness. These disappointing reports and the weak jobs data could suggest that the Federal Reserve may hold off on raising interest rates at the September 21 meeting.
In other words, bad news was viewed as good news in the market, with equities trading higher.
"The CME Group’s FedWatch probability for a rate hike came down significantly after the jobs [report] was released," said Lindsey Bell, senior analyst at S&P Capital Market Intelligence. "The S&P economics team believes that we will get that rate hike by the end of the year, in the December meeting."
What does September hold for the markets? According to LPL Research, September is historically the worst month for the S&P 500. That said, most of the biggest September drops took place when the market was weak heading into the month. The good news for the bulls is that the trend in 2016 heading into September is rather strong.
Trading week ahead
U.S. equity and bond markets will be closed for trade Monday, September 5, for the Labor Day holiday. There is little economic data and earnings on the calendar. Most likely, attention will continue to be on the Fed, global central banks and interest rate hikes.
On Wednesday, September 7, iPhone maker Apple will host an event in San Francisco to show off its latest updates and presumably launch its new iPhone 7. Analysts are not expecting any groundbreaking features.
"Elimination of the 3.5 mm headphone jack, increased base-level storage and updated cameras should be the most notable iPhone 7 features," media analysts at Pacific Crest said. "The launch of iPhone 7 should be the most notable part of next week's event. We expect device features to be largely in line with expectations and do not anticipate any secret 'killer' feature."
Other market movers
Even though there is little to watch in terms of corporate reports, there are several sell-side broker conferences taking place next week. It is important to be aware of when and where companies you are trading or invest in are presenting, because management is notorious for throwing in tidbits on forward guidance or updates on the business, which can certainly move stocks and related sectors.
Some of the larger conferences on tap:
Baird Global Healthcare Conference, September 7-8
Barclay's Global Consumer Staples Conference, September 6-8
Citigroup Global Technology Conference, September 6-8
Citigroup Biotech Conference, September 7-8
Cowen Global Transportation Conference, September 7-8
Goldman Sachs Retail Conference, September 7-8
RBC Capital Global Industrials Conference, September 7-8