The week leading up to the Labor Day holiday was an interesting one for traders. On Tuesday, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) found that there were 8.83 million open positions in the United States in August. This was down from 9.17 million in July and was well below expectations of 9.49 million openings.
In addition, Tuesday saw the release of the Consumer Board consumer confidence index, which came in at 106.1. This was down from 114 last month and was below the 116 figure that analysts had predicted before the report’s release. This was the first report during the week that showed a potential for softness in the economy, and information released on Wednesday would continue to show that a recession may still be in the cards.
On Wednesday, the ADP nonfarm employment change report found that there was an increase of 177,000 jobs during the previous month. However, that was much lower than the 371,000 jobs created in July, and it was also lower than the 194,000 jobs that analysts believed had been created during the period.
Preliminary gross domestic product (GDP) figures were also released on Wednesday, and growth had slowed to 2.1 percent compared to 2.4 percent during the first quarter of the year. It was believed that the economy had grown an additional 2.4 percent during the second quarter of the year.
Finally, home sales data was made available to the public on the third day of the trading week. During the previous month, pending home sales were up .9 percent compared to analyst expectations of a drop of .8 percent. Last month, pending home sales were up .4 percent.
Thursday saw the release of unemployment claims data for the previous week. Over the past seven days, there were 228,000 claims compared to expectations of 236,000 claims during that time period. This week’s figures were slightly lower than the 232,000 benefit applications filed two weeks ago.
In addition, the Core PCE Price Index for the previous month came out, and it showed that prices had increased by .2 percent, which was in line with expectations. Prices for core goods had also increased by .2 percent in July.
On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its nonfarm payroll report (NPR) for the month of August. The report showed that the economy added 187,000 jobs compared to 157,000 in July. Other data released on Friday showed that the unemployment rate had gone up to 3.8 percent from 3.5 percent a month prior. Average hourly earnings increased by .2 percent, which was lower than the .3 percent predicted prior to the release of this data.
The Dow finished the week at 34,837, which was a gain of 212 points or .61 percent during this period. On Monday, the Dow made its low of the week at 34,445 before climbing to a high of 35,008 on Wednesday.
Like the Dow, the Nasdaq finished the week higher. At the close of trading Friday, the market was at 14,031, which was an increase of 2.6 percent compared to its opening price on Monday. The Nasdaq would reach its low of the week of 13,642 on Monday afternoon before steadily climbing to a high of 14,131 on Friday.
Investors in the S&P 500 also saw a positive return on their investment this week as the market closed up 1.89 percent at 4,515. As with the other two major indexes, the S&P made its low on Monday and reached its high for the week on Friday.
This upcoming week is going to be relatively light on news in the United States with the ISM Services PMI on Wednesday perhaps the only noteworthy release on the schedule. However, rate decisions in Australia and Canada will likely provide some insight into what the Fed might do when it meets later in September.