Jobs Report May Mean More to Presidential Race Than Markets
Traders say Friday's jobs report may have more impact on the presidential race than the markets, though investors will still be watching closely.
Economists expect employers added 113,000 jobs in September, while the unemployment rate edged up to 8.2 percent from August's 8.1 percent, according to a Reuters survey. Friday’s report will be the second-to-last before the November election.
“Because of [this jobs report’s] juxtaposition to election, there will be significant political ramifications, perhaps more so than for the market,” said Art Hogan, managing director at Lazard Capital Markets. "Politically, anything that pushes the cause of the Romney camp forward could have a positive effect on the market." (Read More: Wall Street Hopes for Romney, but Expects Obama to Win.)
In Wednesday night's debate, Republican challenger Mitt Romney sharply criticized President Barack Obama over the tepid pace of of job creation. Although layoffs have declined, employers have been hesitant to hire because of uncertainty over who will be the next president, as well as the impending "fiscal cliff" at year-end.
“How we avoid the ‘fiscal cliff’ is impossible to know without incorporating the concept of who’s the next president,” said Hogan.
Meanwhile, some strategists say investors will be "more forgiving" if the jobs number disappoints on Friday because of the Federal Reserve's stimulus program.
“It's tough not to be bullish right now because of QE3, so the potential of higher highs for stocks is a realistic possibility," said Todd Schoenberger, managing principal of The BlackBay Group. "[So] don’t expect a lot out of this number." (Read More: What Market Is Saying About Elections.)
Pressured by ongoing economic weakness and sluggish employment market, the Fed launched another aggressive stimulusfor the economy in September, promising to continue its support until the jobs market improves substantially. As such, equities have climbed, despite some lackluster economic data in recent weeks.
“It's a win-win both ways," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. "Even if the number surprises to the upside, the Fed is going to need to see incremental strength before they pull out."
Other widely followed employment reports have been mixed throughout the week. The private sector created 162,000 jobs in September, slightly better than expected, according to the latest ADP numbers, while weekly jobless claims edged upto a seasonally adjusted 367,000, according to the Labor Department.
However, Krosby warned that investors need to be prepared for a drop in equities if the jobs number comes in “significantly lower than expected.”
“You’re going to have market participants question the rate of growth and whether the Fed’s action was enough,” he said.
—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park; Follow Her on Twitter @JeeYeonParkCNBC
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