Market Insider

Eyes on the Fed, Greece after strong jobs report

Official: New deadline for Greece
Official: New deadline for Greece

The strong monthly jobs report brings the possibility of an interest rate hike into focus, while concerns about Greece and the euro zone continue to weigh.

Next week brings relatively less economic data, with retail sales the primary point in focus. Analysts expect a 0.5 percent decline for January, after a 0.9 percent decline in December.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's favored data report, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey that comes out Tuesday, will shed more light on the U.S. economy.

On Friday, the Labor Department said the United States created 257,000 jobs in January, beating estimates of about 230,000. More importantly, average hourly earnings grew by 0.5 percent, above estimates.

Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Wealth Management, said the wage increase is a boost of 2.2 percent year over year, beating inflation.

"People are growing in real purchasing power," he said, noting expectations of a Fed rate hike in July.

The unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent, slightly above estimates.

Read MoreFed 'running out of excuses' for zero rates

"The unemployment rate went up for the right reason: participation rate going up," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

He said the strong jobs report could result in removal of "patient" language in the Fed's March statement but was not concerned about hasty moves by the central bank.

"We know we have a very cautious and patient Fed," Hogan said. "What we have is stronger U.S. economic data."

Analysts pointed out that after nearly seven years of low interest rates, the United States is due for a rate hike.

"The Fed's game of rationalizing zero interest rates has no touch with reality," the Lindsey Group's chief market analyst, Peter Boockvar, said in a note. "The reason, however, why this good job growth is not translating into faster GDP growth is because productivity is so poor, which means that 2015 could be the peak in corporate profit margins."

Read MoreWhere are oil prices headed from here?

Thursday's reports showed nonfarm productivity fell a greater-than-expected 1.8 percent for the fourth quarter. Economists had forecast productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, rising at a 0.5 percent pace.

CME interest rate futures increasingly indicate a Fed rate hike by March, with the expected probability rising to more than 50 percent after the jobs report on Friday, from 48 percent a month ago.

"At one point the odds of a sooner-than-expected rate increase will be a theme of the market. There are other global issues there the Fed is going to look at carefully," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.

The S&P downgrade of Greece credit to "B-" from "B" rattled markets Friday afternoon, sending the Dow Jones industrial average down briefly more than 100 points and pushing the major indices lower to close the day in the red.

Read More

Still, U.S. stocks enjoyed a strong week as crude ended a second week higher at $51.69 a barrel. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 3.84 percent for the week, its best week since January 2013 and posting gains of 1.22 points for the year. The S&P 500 closed up for the week at 3.03 percent, its best week since Dec. 19.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will release its monthly report on oil markets on Thursday.

Investors will continue to watch developments in Greece as leaders continue to meet and Greek bonds officially cease to be eligible for collateral through the European Central Bank on Wednesday. ECB President Mario Draghi will speak on Thursday in Brussels.

"I'm not worried about Greece doing something uneconomic because their hands are tied," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management.

In other Europe news, regional GDP comes out on Friday and the Bank of England will report on inflation on Thursday.


OPEC monthly oil market report

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10:00 a.m.: Wholesale trade

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10:00 a.m.: Business inventories

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