Markets were fickle during the early trading session on Wednesday as stocks were up on the optimism that a trade deal is close, but went negative after employment data released by ADP and Moody’s Analytics showed that job growth hit an 18-month low in the month of March.
Private payrolls went up by 129,000 for the month, which fell below the 173,000 that economists surveyed by Dow Jones were expecting to see. Nonetheless, a February employment data revision did show an increase of 197,000 as opposed to the initial number of 183,000.
It was the lowest figure since March 2017 when private payrolls increased by 111,000.
“The job market is weakening, with employment gains slowing significantly across most industries and company sizes,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said in a statement. “Businesses are hiring cautiously as the economy is struggling with fading fiscal stimulus, the trade uncertainty, and the lagged impact of Fed tightening. If employment growth weakens much further, unemployment will begin to rise.”
The Dow Jones Industrial zigzagged up and down in the early trading session before ending eight points higher as of 10:15 a.m. ET. The markets began on the upside with optimism on a trade deal, but skepticism that a trade deal is already priced into the rise in equities this year could be a concern.
However, a trade deal would help ease fears of a global economic slowdown, according to Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities.
“To a certain degree, a trade deal is already priced in,” said Cardillo, adding that “a trade deal is a win for the United States and the global economy.”
“That will lift a major cloud that’s over the global economy,” Cardillo added.