True to recent form, unrest in Northern Africa dominated global markets on Friday with these concerns continuing to manifest in energy prices. The price of crude oil continued its north bound trajectory with price action now well and truly entrenched above US$100 a barrel. The burden of higher energy prices is now taking its toll on sentiment - Friday's trade in the US saw this came at the expense of US stocks with the S&P500 falling 0.75 per cent.
In layman's terms higher energy cost means you pay more to get less which is now fuelling fears it may be a significant headwind for the global growth outlook. Whilst it could be said the higher cost of oil is a product of a strengthening global economy - with geopolitical unrest underpinning its ascent, focus has now diverted the potential barrier it will place on recovery hopes. Economists suggest that every US$10 rise of crude oil, the US economy will take a 0.2 per cent hit and exponentially increase over time if high levels are sustained.
On Friday much of the focus in currencies was also on US jobs data and although in line with estimates the release failed to provide any real sustenance for US dollar price action. US non-farm payrolls recorded growth of 192,000 jobs in February from a previous 63,000 which saw the official unemployment rate edged down to 8.9 per cent from a previous 9 per cent.
Upside revisions were also made for previous releases, with December's payrolls increasing from 121,000 to 152,000 and January was revised from 36,000 to 63,000 new jobs. On balance we're looking at a solid payrolls number, however market whispers prior to the release suggested we could have been at a number significantly north of estimates, hence the post-release failure of greenback support.
Quite simply, we're going to need something in excess of expectations to bring forward rate hike expectations and without this confirmation of a sustained employment recovery, we're likely to see the US dollar to remain at this critical juncture and continue to cohere to this hybrid of influences until economic signpost point to a jobs-based recovery. A sustained employment rebound underpinned by positive language by the Fed will likely be the watershed event to restore greenback appeal.
From a macro perspective the week ahead will see local employment data released for February. Estimates suggest the Australian economy created 21,500 jobs from a previous 24,000. ANZ jobs advertisement data will be in focus today and generally seen as a precursor to Thursday headline.
Also in focus this week will be home loan data for January and consumer and business confidence data from the NAB and Westpac. This week is also a particularly important one for the local unit ahead of Chinese growth data due for release on Friday. Among a series of smaller releases, Chinese consumer prices are expected to have moderated in February to 4.8 percent from a previous 4.9 percent. At the time of writing the Aussie dollar is buying 101.5 US cents.