As usual, the first Friday of a new month brings the all-important US non-farm payroll (NFP) data, which this time may be anticipated with even more interest after Wednesday’s astonishing result from the ADP private payroll survey.
ADP said US private employment increased by 291,000 in January, following a 199,000 gain in December.
The figure could be seen as a good precursor for Friday’s data, although Ian Shepherdson from Pantheon Macroeconomics expects the NFP number to be “much less spectacular”.
“The drop in claims between the December and January payrolls survey weeks likely boosted ADP’s number substantially, but it was due to seasonal adjustment issues over the holidays, not any real shift in the pace of layoffs,” he said in a reaction piece to the ADP data.
However, Shepherdson added, such a big leap cannot be ignored and he upped his forecast for Friday’s January NFPs to 200,000 from 160,000.
“The drop in claims between the December and January payrolls survey weeks likely boosted ADP’s number substantially, but it was due to seasonal adjustment issues over the holidays, not any real shift in the pace of layoffs,” he concluded, as businesses ‘do not like the trade war’”.
Bellway builds on sector results
Those two builders had mixed results, with Barratt dishing out special returns after solid numbers, but Redrow posting a 15% decline in half-year profits due to stronger comparatives.
JP Morgan believes the two, alongside Bellway, are the “most attractive” names on its stock screen in an industry supported by government policy and affordability in the long term.
A key focus in Bellway’s trading update will be on recent sales rates, reservations and net prices movements.
The stock rocketed 50% higher last year putting it on the verge of promotion to the FTSE 100 index, but the firm expressed caution in an October update, saying it anticipated facing “more pronounced” pressure on profit margins in the current year due to flatter house prices and rising costs.
However, of course, this was well before the December general election, when a big Conservative majority bought some badly needed certainty to the UK, but the FTSE 250-listed firm said its completions were likely to moderate slightly from the previous year’s 5.7% growth.
Analysts at Citigroup have pencilled in Bellway reporting pre-tax profits of £290mln as operating margins shrink due to the product mix and flattish house prices, with no big capital returns expected from the group as net cash is only estimated at around £71mln.
Significant announcements expected on Friday:
Economic data: US non-farm payrolls