The weaker jobs gains could mean the Federal Reserve will keep propping up the economy. The central bank may not have to speed up its plans to unwind stimulus. It could also delay any interest rate hikes until later in 2022.
But there was some good news in the jobs report too though, which may be muddling the picture for investors (and the Fed) a bit. Despite the tepid gains in the number of jobs added, the unemployment rate fell to a new pandemic-era low of 4.2%.
Stocks are still down for the week. The Dow has fallen 1.3%. The S&P 500 is off 1.6% and the Nasdaq has dropped more than 3%. The markets have been whipsawed on the news earlier this week that Omicron cases have arrived in the US.
“There is still significant investor apprehension,” said David Jilek, chief investment strategist at Gateway Investment Advisers. “The market is more susceptible to volatility.”
One strategist said that Friday’s weak jobs report likely won’t be enough to push the Fed into slowing down the taper.
“Inflation pressure has become such an issue,” said Katy Kaminski, chief research strategist at AlphaSimplex Group. “It’s affecting everybody. Regardless of how unpleasant it is to consider tightening credit and raising rates, it’s something that has to happen.”