European markets remained focused on elections in France and Greece with general political uncertainty promoting downside across risk assets on Friday. We've seen a continuance of this theme this morning with Euro currently testing $US1.30-figure in early trade as the news of Sarkozy's defeat against Socialist candidate Francois Hollande. We're seeing general concerns surrounding Hollande's ability to strike the delicate balance between growth and austerity and it's clear whoever is at the helm, market participants have little faith in the ability of any leader's ability to restore fiscal health. Meanwhile, Greek elections also remain a stumbling block for markets, with Greece's two major parties failing to secure an outright lead according to initial estimates while independent parties opposed to austerity claiming up to 58 percent of the vote.
Across the Atlantic, the release of the official U.S employment data was the key directive on Friday and once again failed to meet expectations. U.S non-farm payrolls record 115,000 new jobs in April, falling short of economist's estimates of 160,000. Although the official unemployment rate ticked lower to 8.1 percent this was - in part - due to a rise in the number of inactive jobs seekers with a drop in the participation rate. Commodity currencies made a rapid downturn in the ensuing period with the Aussie leading the charge lower against the greenback to lows not seen since early January. The perceived safety of the Japanese Yen was the overall winner on the day with the USDJPY making a break to the downside of Y80. The US dollar is walking the tight-rope between its natural appeal as a safe haven and continued conjecture over the likelihood of further stimulus from the Fed.
Locally, the week ahead will see market participants turn to the release of our very own employment numbers on Thursday with economists estimating 5,000 job losses in April against a previous rise of 44,000. Local markets will also be watching the release of retail sales data on today which is expected to see seasonally adjusted growth of 0.2 percent in March. Also on the docket this morning is NAB business conditions/confidence, building approvals. At the time of writing the Australian dollar is buying 101.5 US cents.