April Job Growth Surges to 253,000, Defying Economic Slowdown
The U.S. economy added 253,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in April, surpassing Wall Street estimates of 180,000 and defying concerns over an economic slowdown. The unemployment rate reached 3.4%, its lowest level since 1969. Average hourly earnings increased by 0.5% for the month and 4.4% year-over-year, higher rates than expected. Despite recent banking industry troubles and recession fears, job growth remained strong across various sectors, including professional and business services, healthcare, and leisure and hospitality.
Fed Hints at End of Tightening Cycle with 10th Interest Rate Hike
The Federal Reserve has increased interest rates for the 10th time in just over a year, taking the fed funds rate to a range of 5%-5.25%. This unanimous decision hints at the end of the current tightening cycle. The Fed's post-meeting statement removed a sentence about anticipating further policy firming, suggesting a less clear path for interest rate hikes. Despite concerns from Democratic lawmakers, the labor market has remained strong, and inflation continues to run above the 2% target.
Services Regain Spotlight as Key Driver of US Economy
The US economy is shifting back to services, such as haircuts and restaurant meals, which make up over 70% of the economy. This is important because focusing only on the slowdown in manufacturing and falling commodity prices might give a wrong idea of the economy's overall health. Recent updates show manufacturing is shrinking, but services activity is still growing, which could counterbalance the decline in goods production.
Banking Crisis: PacWest Considers Options As Shares Plunge
PacWest Bancorp has confirmed it is discussing strategic options with potential partners and investors, as shares in regional US banks plunge amid an ongoing banking crisis. PacWest assured it had not experienced unusual deposit outflows and that its planned $2.7 billion lender finance loan portfolio sale would proceed, raising its common equity tier one ratio. The bank's shares fell 52%, and Western Alliance shares were down 23%, highlighting investor concerns over the health of regional banks.
Gold and Silver Prices Rise Amid US Banking Concerns and Recession Fears
Comex gold futures prices have reached a new record high of $2,085.40 an ounce, while silver prices have also increased, driven by safe-haven demand due to uncertainty in the US banking system and concerns over a potential US or global economic recession. Risk aversion has intensified following the Federal Reserve's interest rate increase, with reports suggesting that California-based lender PacWest Bancorp is in trouble. As markets anticipate another interest rate hike by the European Central Bank, traders and investors remain nervous.
Silver Demand Expected to Rise in 2023 with Continued Deficits
In 2023, the demand for silver is predicted to keep growing, especially in industrial applications, with another significant deficit expected. The green economy will drive the increase in industrial demand, which is forecasted to rise by 4% to a new record high. Photovoltaic (PV) applications, along with other industrial segments, will contribute to this growth. Meanwhile, silver production from mines might not be able to keep up with the increasing demand, continuing the trend of deficits in the market.
Looking Ahead to Next Week
The major U.S. economic reports scheduled for next week include the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI) on May 10th and May 11th, respectively. As key inflation gauges, these reports will likely influence the Federal Reserve's upcoming decisions on interest rates. Other reports to be released next week cover topics such as wholesale inventories, NFIB optimism index, initial and continuing jobless claims, and import price index.