|US Payrolls Also Top Estimates
With money markets assigning even odds to a rate increase of 50 basis points at the March Fed policy meeting, evidence of enduring labour strength would heap pressure on policymakers to persevere with jumbo hikes and make good on warnings that rates may need to be steeper and go on longer to tame inflation. US payrolls rose in February by more than expected while a broad measure of monthly wage growth slowed, offering a mixed picture as the Federal Reserve considers whether to increase interest-rate hikes.
The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.6% as the labour force grew, and monthly wages rose at the slowest pace in a year. Average hourly earnings climbed 4.6% from a year ago. That said, wages for production and nonsupervisory workers — which make up the majority of US workers and aren’t in management positions — advanced 0.5% m/m, the biggest gain in three months and primarily driven by service industries.
For the US, the employment gain was so far above expectations that it opened the way for the Fed to raise the overnight fed funds rate by 50 bps–despite several signs of softening in the report.
In this environment, the Bank of Canada will wait for the incoming inflation and economic data to assess their decision to pause rate hikes. No doubt, the Canadian dollar will be volatile. Policymakers view wage pressures running in the range of 4% to 5% as inconsistent with getting inflation back to the 2% target. Stay tuned.