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Fed rate cut debate to heat up as US job market cools

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By Ann Saphir

(Reuters) -Federal Reserve policymakers got more evidence of U.S. labor-market cooling on Friday that could boost their confidence they are winning their fight on inflation, and open the path to a more active debate on interest-rate cuts when they next meet in late July. 

The Labor Department report showing a rise in unemployment and a decline in job creation is just the latest in a string of recent data offering more evidence of slowing than what U.S. central bankers had in hand at their June meeting.

At that time, many of them felt inflation progress was so lacking and the economy still so strong that they would likely cut rates only once this year, if at all.     Since then, the data has marched in the opposite direction. A couple of inflation reports have shown prices did not rise at all from April to May; other reports have signaled a slump in services and manufacturing activity and rising job openings and layoffs.

Friday’s job report did not show big cracks in the labor market – indeed, job gains in June, at 206,000, outpaced economists’ expectations.

But the unemployment rate rose to 4.1%, and large revisions to prior-month estimates of job creation meant the average monthly payroll gain over the most recent three months has downshifted to 177,000.

That’s below the 200,000-a-month gain that Fed Governor Lisa Cook recently estimated the economy now needs just to keep up with immigration and other increases to the population.

Average hourly earnings were up 3.9% from a year earlier, and 0.3% from a month earlier, Friday’s report showed. That puts annualized wage growth for the last three months at about 3.6%, nearing a pace consistent with the Fed’s 2% inflation objective.

U.S. central bankers meeting July 30-31 are not expected to change their policy rate from the 5.25%-5.5% range it has been in since last July.

But the new data, which suggests the labor market is nearing a healthier balance, could put a rate cut at the following meeting in their sights.

“Overall, a moderation in payrolls in Q2 coupled with a rise in the unemployment rate and a slower growth path suggested by recent data bolster the case for rate cuts this year,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist of High Frequency Economics. “We think the Fed could certainly start the discussion about cutting rates at the upcoming FOMC meeting, and lower the policy rate in September, if the data continue to show moderation.”

Fed policymakers at their June meeting signaled they see just one interest-rate cut this year, a forecast that pointed to a December start to any policy easing.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said they would need to be confident inflation is heading to their 2% goal before cutting rates.

He also said any unexpected weakening in the labor market could also trigger a rate cut.

The increase in the unemployment rate last month from 4% still leaves that widely used gauge of labor-market health below levels historically associated with a downturn.

But the rising rate, which was 3.7% in January and 3.5% last July, paints an economy on a more fragile footing than the raw number might suggest. Unless it declines in July, it would trigger what’s known as the Sahm rule, an indicator for recession.

And while the post-pandemic economy has repeatedly bucked expectations and undercut long-held correlations, analysts are wary.

“We now have definitive evidence of U.S. labor market cooling with a somewhat alarming rise in the unemployment rate in recent months that should give policymakers ‘more confidence’ that consumer inflation will soon return to the 2% target on a sustainable basis,” said BMO Chief U.S. Economist Scott Anderson.

Powell is slated to address Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday, and investors will be paying close attention to his views on the latest data and what it means for the Fed’s policy path.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The exterior of the Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building is seen in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 14, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger/File Photo

On Thursday investors will get the June reading on the consumer price index, which last month showed inflation had resumed its cooling trend.

Financial markets are pricing in a 78% chance of a September rate cut, up from about 72% before the June jobs report. Traders are also pricing in a second rate cut in December more firmly than previously.

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Citi maintains Neutral on Terex shares, cites ESG business purchase

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On Monday, Terex Corporation (NYSE:) maintained its Neutral rating with a steady stock price target of $60.00, as announced by Citi. Terex disclosed it has signed an agreement to purchase Dover’s Environmental Solutions Group (ESG) business, which includes refuse vehicles and compaction equipment.

The deal is valued at $2 billion in gross terms, with a net purchase price of approximately $1.725 billion after accounting for the present value of roughly $275 million in tax benefits.

The net purchase price is approximately 9.6 times ESG’s projected 2024 EBITDA, with the multiple decreasing to around 8.4 times after factoring in the expected synergies of about $25 million. Terex anticipates the acquisition will be accretive to its adjusted earnings per share (EPS) by double digits in 2025. The acquisition is seen as beneficial, enhancing Terex’s business narrative and providing clear cost and revenue synergies.

Despite the premium paid over Terex’s current enterprise value to EBITDA multiple, the acquisition is considered potentially advantageous for Terex.

Success hinges on the company’s ability to realize the targeted synergies, the promised accretion to EPS, and ESG’s ability to deliver the forecasted mid-single-digit long-term compound annual growth rate (CAGR) with minimal business cyclicality. The transaction is slated for completion in the fourth quarter of 2024.

In other recent news, Terex Corporation has acquired Environmental Solutions Group (ESG) from Dover Corporation (NYSE:) in a deal valued at $2.0 billion, expanding its market reach. The acquisition, expected to close in the second half of 2024, will enhance Terex’s position in the waste and recycling sector. ESG’s integration will create a new Environmental Solutions segment within Terex, combining it with Terex’s existing Utilities business.

In other developments, Dover Corporation’s first-quarter earnings exceeded analyst estimates, with an adjusted EPS of $1.95, surpassing the expected $1.87. Revenue for the quarter also surpassed expectations, reaching $2.09 billion against the consensus estimate of $2.04 billion.

In analyst notes, Mizuho Securities has revised its outlook on Dover, raising its price target to $185 from the previous $180. The firm also revised its earnings per share estimates for Dover for 2024 and 2025, increasing them to $9.10 and $9.75, respectively. These recent developments indicate a positive outlook for Dover’s financial future.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

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Israeli parliament votes to label UN relief agency a terror organisation

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The Israeli parliament gave preliminary approval on Monday to a bill that declares the main United Nations relief organization for Palestinians a terrorist organisation and proposes to sever relations with the body.

The vote against the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) is the latest step in a Israeli push against the agency, which Israeli leaders have accused of collaborating with the Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza.

The bill was approved in a first reading and will be returned to the foreign affairs and defence committee for further deliberation, the Knesset information service said.

The bill’s sponsor, Yulia Malinovsky, was quoted as describing UNRWA as a “fifth column within Israel”.

UNRWA provides education, health and aid to millions of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. It has long had tense relations with Israel but relations have deteriorated sharply since the start of the war in Gaza and Israel has called repeatedly for UNRWA to be disbanded.

“It’s another attempt in a wider campaign to dismantle the agency,” UNRWA spokesperson Juliette Touma said. “Such steps are unheard of in the history of the United Nations.”

Israel has said hundreds of UNRWA staff are members of terrorist groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but has yet to provide evidence to a U.N.-appointed review.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) sign lies on the ground, amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas,  at the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Israel, May 30, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

Several donor countries halted funding to UNRWA following the Israeli accusations but many have since reversed the decision, including Britain which said last week it would resume funding.

Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority condemned the Israeli vote, and Hussein Al-Sheikh, a senior ally of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called on the international community to resist attempts to dissolve the agency.

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Israel sends tanks back into Khan Younis area, 70 killed after new evacuation order

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By Nidal al-Mughrabi, Ari Rabinovitch and Hatem Khaled

CAIRO/JERUSALEM/GAZA (Reuters) -Israel sent tanks back into the greater Khan Younis area and at least 49 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, Gaza medics said on Monday, after ordering evacuations of some districts it said had been used for renewed attacks by militants.

The Palestinians were killed by tank salvoes in the town of Bani Suhaila and other towns fringing the eastern side of Khan Younis, with the area also bombarded by air, they said.

Residents of the densely built-up area of southern Gaza said the tanks advanced for more than two kilometres into Bani Suhaila, forcing residents to flee under fire.

“It is like doomsday,” one resident, who only identified himself as Abu Khaled, told Reuters via chat app. “People are fleeing under fire, many are dead and wounded on the roads.”

The Gaza health ministry said the dead included several women and children and that at least 186 other people had been injured by Israeli fire. The Gaza ministry does not distinguish between militants and civilians in its death tallies.

Around 400,000 people are living in the targeted areas and dozens of families have begun to leave their houses, Palestinian officials said, adding they were not given time to get out of harm’s way before the Israeli strikes began.

Some families fled on donkey carts, others on foot, carrying mattresses and other belongings.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said two of its clinics located in eastern Khan Younis had been knocked out of operation because of the new Israeli offensive.

At Khan Younis’ Nasser Hospital, some people stood outside the morgue to bid farewell to dead relatives.

“We are tired, we are tired in Gaza, every day our children are martyred, every day, every moment,” said Ahmed Sammour, who lost several relatives in bombings of eastern Khan Younis.

“No one told us to evacuate. They brought four floors crashing down on civilians… and the bodies they could reach, they brought to the refrigerator (morgue),” Sammour added.

There was no immediate Israeli comment on the strikes on the eastern side of Khan Younis, whose population initially fled their homes when Israeli tanks stormed in several months ago, before returning after they withdrew to rebuild their lives.

In nearby Deir Al-Balah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are sheltering, an Israeli airstrike hit a tent used by local journalists inside Al-Aqsa Hospital, killing one of them and wounding two other people, the Hamas-run Gaza government media office said.

The new death raised the number of Palestinian journalists killed in the Israeli offensive to 163, it added.

EVACUATION ORDERS

Earlier on Monday, the Israeli military said it had issued new evacuation orders due to renewed Palestinian militant attacks, including rockets launched from the targeted areas in eastern Khan Younis. The orders did not include health institutions, Palestinians said.

The military said it was adjusting the boundaries of a designated humanitarian zone in coastal Al-Mawasi – to the west of Khan Younis – to keep the civilian population away from areas of combat with Hamas-led Palestinian militants.

The Gaza Civil Emergency Services said Israel’s new orders showed it had downsized the humanitarian-designated areas in southern and central areas, where 1.7 million people were sheltering, to 48 square km from 65 square km in the past.

The Palestinians, the United Nations and international relief agencies have said there is no safe place left in Gaza.

Health officials at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis urged residents on Monday to donate blood because of the large number of casualties being rushed into the medical centre.

“A family, including children, were all torn to pieces while they were sleeping,” said one man who arrived at the hospital in an ambulance bearing the bodies.

Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas after militants killed 1,200 people and took more than 250 hostages in a cross-border assault on Oct. 7, 2023, according to Israeli tallies.

© Reuters. A Palestinian woman sits on a wheelchair as she and others flee the eastern part of Khan Younis after they were ordered by Israeli army to evacuate their neighborhoods, amid Israel-Hamas conflict, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip July 22, 2024. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled

The death toll among Palestinians in Israel’s retaliatory offensive since then had reached at least 39,006 as of Monday, Gaza health authorities said.

A ceasefire effort led by Qatar and Egypt and backed by the U.S. has so far fallen short because of disagreements over terms between the combatants, who blame each other for the impasse.

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