Disappointing factory orders and job data from the US Department of Labor sent Wall Street markets diving on Friday (2 October), erasing the week's gains. The Dow Jones Industrial average fell by 1.24% shortly after the opening bell, while the Nasdaq lost 1.19%, after the DoL announced a lesser than expected increase in the payroll jobs survey.
Employment gains in August were revised down from 173,000 to 136,000 in a second estimate, and the job gains in the year to September 2015 were down 23% compared to the same period last year.
"The September jobs report was uniformly disappointing," Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, confirmed. "Not only was jobs growth in the month well below the yearly average, the gains in the prior two months were trimmed by a total of 59,000. The simultaneous declines in labour force participation and hours worked are also reasons to worry. Last but not least, stagnant wages are worrisome."
Although the unemployment rate held at its lowest level of since 2008, of 5.1%, this was attributed to a huge drop in labour force and employment dropped by 236,000. The participation rate fell from 62.6% to 62.4%, the lowest since October 1977.
"Two months of weak payroll gains suggest that the mighty US jobs machine may be losing some steam," Behravesh said. "Potential culprits include weakness overseas, volatility in the stock market and weak productivity growth.
The weak performance of overseas economy partially caused a drop in factory orders of 1.7% in August. US investors were hopeful after orders gained 0.2% in July, but were dealt a blow when August saw the biggest drop since December 2014.
The US largely depends on foreign orders for its factory activity and the strong dollar and concerns about the global economy have caused demand from overseas to weaken.
Janet Yellen, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank, is likely to be relieved her Federal Open Market Committee decided against a rise in the US interest rate. The Fed was considering an increase in the rate because of the strong economic growth, but decided against it because of the global financial slump. Now US data, too, shows the country is far from immune to global woes.