February’s employment report blew past expectations with the economy adding 379K new jobs. Economists had expected a 200K gain. January’s figure was also revised upward as improvement in COVID cases seemed to spur hiring. Driving the gains was a significant rebound in leisure and hospitality. The overall unemployment rate ticked down to 6.2%, while the participation rate was flat.
ISM Manufacturing Index rose to 60.8 in February, up from 58.7 in January and staying solidly in expansionary territory (above 50). The Services Index unexpectedly fell, largely on the back of weather disruptions.
The Senate’s efforts to pass the stimulus hit a road bump on Friday on adjustments to federal unemployment benefits and a flurry of last-minute amendments being made to the bill to resolve disputes and get the votes necessary for passage. The negotiations are likely to continue into the night and into the weekend, where it is expected to pass with VP Harris casting the deciding vote once the details are ironed out among Democrats.
On the back of better than expected employment numbers and perhaps an economy that can recover more quickly than previously thought, yields rose, and tech names fell, continuing the trend we saw at the end of February and amid a week of volatile market movements. Please see our February Due Diligence call and report for more context and information.