Just one thing in the jobs report could make me bullish—and it probably won’t be there: Strategist

Even a strong jobs report wouldn't make macro strategist and trader Boris Schlossberg bullish on stocks. But one thing would: a big improvement in wages.

"There's only one thing that could turn me to the positive: If the number on Friday shows a really strong growth in wages — which I doubt is really going to happen," Schlossberg, of BK Asset Management, said Wednesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

Wages are "much more important" than the overall growth in nonfarm payrolls, Schlossberg said.

"Across the whole Western world, the economies are doing OK, but we're just not seeing that translate into more income for individual people. And that's why final demand is very tepid," he explained. Since wages are weighing down consumer demand and thus earnings, "until you see greater growth in income, it's very hard to be super-bullish stocks here."

In the prior employment report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nonfarm payrolls increased by 235,000 in February, but that average hourly earnings rose by just 6 cents, to $26.09. That followed a rise of just 5 cents in January.

When it comes to Friday's employment report, economists expect to see a growth of 180,000 jobs to be attended by a monthly increase of just 0.2 percent in average hourly earnings, according to FactSet.

To be sure, some market participants say that the most likely direction for stocks remains higher.

"I think the jobs number will matter for about 15 or 20 minutes — and then once the market opens, the buying will begin," said Dennis Davitt, portfolio manager at Harvest Volatility Management. "I think the market is fundamentally underweight equities still," and investors "have cash to put to work."

While Davitt thinks that earnings will ultimately be the bullish driver of the next market move, he said Wednesday on "Trading Nation" that "a great unemployment number could certainly kick-start it."


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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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