A few hours ago Australia revealed that a whopping 31,600 full-time workers had lost their jobs in December. 9,000 workers found part-time jobs though, and pulled the net job loss to only 22,600. Analysts had been expecting a net gain of 10,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to remain at 5.8%. The actual jobless rate came in as expected.
What further caught the Aussie bears’ attention was that the participation rate, or the ratio of those who are working and are looking for work to the whole labor force, fell to its seven-year low of 64.6. Analysts estimate that the headline jobless rate would have rocketed to 6.1% if the participation rate had remained at November’s 64.8 reading. Yikes!
Do the numbers above automatically translate to another Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) interest rate cut? Not necessarily. Here are two reasons:
1. The RBA had already called it
For the past couple of months the RBA has already been warning that employment conditions could come in “below-trend” due to declining mining investment. In fact, this is one of the reasons why the RBA had also aggressively cut its rates last year.
It will probably take more than a confirmation of weak employment conditions to spur the RBA into another rate cut spree. After all, we’re already seeing improvements in the housing and construction industries and the RBA still wants to see the impact of its previous rate cuts. Of course, the central bank could always change its mind if commodity prices, trade numbers, and government spending continue to miss expectations.
2. AUD/USD is still dropping
Remember that Australia’s economic growth highly depends on its exports. A weak Aussie would make the Land Down Under’s products cheaper against other countries’ goods. More exports means more companies making money and more people getting jobs. It also means less pressure on the RBA to further stimulate the economy by cutting its rates.
As it is, AUD/USD went all Ke$ha and yelled “timber” as it fell to its three-and-a-half year low minutes after the job report’s release. Right now it’s sitting below .8800 when it was just at .9700 in late October. Talk about effective jawboning by Glenn Stevens and his gang!
While the Land Down Under‘s latest jobs numbers support other signs of economic weakness, this old man doesn’t think that the RBA will pull the rate cut trigger over it. What about you? Are you seeing an RBA interest rate cut in the near future?