January NFP: Make or Break for the Dollar?

Time sure flies fast when you’re catching pips, doesn’t it? Before you know it, it’s time for the U.S. non-farm payrolls release again! Market gurus think that this particular release would be crucial for the U.S. dollar so let’s take a look at what’s expected for the January NFP report.

After printing a dismal 74K rise in hiring for December, the employment report could show a more respectable 184K in jobs growth for the first month of 2014. This should be enough to keep the unemployment rate steady at 6.7% in the meantime, unless of course the participation rate messes things up again.

Bear in mind that the participation rate, which measures the percentage of working-age Americans who are either employed or actively looking for work, has tumbled to a 35-year low of 62.8% in December. This means that the dropping jobless rate reflects how people are simply giving up looking for work and does not indicate an actual improvement in the labor market.

With that, market participants are likely to take any declines in the jobless rate with a grain of salt. After all, several Fed policymakers have clarified that reaching the target 6.5% jobless rate isn’t a sign that the central bank will automatically start hiking interest rates, as other labor indicators have to be taken into consideration.

Seasonal factors might also skew the January NFP figures, as a huge part of the country suffered extremely cold weather conditions during the month. Recall that the polar vortex affected several states, which might’ve weighed on the payroll count again, just as weather-related factors did in December.

Another disappointing jobs report might be enough to undo most of the dollar’s recent gains, as it would convince more traders that the Fed could hit the brakes on its taper plans. Although two weak data points aren’t enough to make a trend, the argument that the bleak December jobs figure might be an outlier won’t hold water anymore.

On a brighter note, some analysts are still counting on a significant rebound for the January NFP figure, as a labor force correction is due. After all, a quick review of the January jobs figures for the past four years shows a pattern of improvements or upward revisions in previous readings.

Do you think we’ll see a rebound in the January NFP report? Let us know by voting through the poll below!