US nonfarm payrolls up less than expected
US payrolls expanded by 98,000 in March, well below the 180,000 consensus forecast. In addition, both January and February payrolls were downwardly revised. However, the unemployment rate dipped 0.2% to 4.5%, the lowest level since May 2007, while average hourly earnings rose 2.7% versus a year ago, down from 2.8% in February.


US attacks Syrian airbase
In response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the United States launched nearly five dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles targeted at the airfield from which the attack is believed to have been launched. The missiles struck infrastructure at the airfield, according to the administration, but did not target chemical weapons storage facilities because of the potential for civilian casualties.


Trade, North Korea top Trump–Xi agenda
US president Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, China’s president, held talks at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, late this week. The leaders discussed trade relations between the world’s two largest economies as well as security concerns, particularly over North Korea.


Fed eyes balance sheet, stock valuations
The minutes of Federal Open Market Committee meetings rarely make much news, but the summary of the March meeting did so on several fronts. The committee discussed shrinking the Fed’s mammoth $4.5 trillion balance sheet beginning late this year by allowing some of the assets it acquired in the wake of the financial crisis to mature. However, the committee did not outline specifically how it will change its reinvestment policy. Those specifics are expected later in 2017. Also newsworthy was that members of the committee opined on asset valuations more directly than usual: “Some participants viewed equity prices as quite high relative to standard valuation measures. It was observed that prices of other risk assets, such as emerging market stocks, high-yield corporate bonds, and commercial real estate, had also risen significantly in recent months.”


European manufacturing hits highest reading in nearly six years
The eurozone purchasing managers’ index in March rose to its highest level in nearly six years, reaching 56.2 from 55.4. That’s the highest since April of 2011. European retail sales rose solidly for the second month in a row in February, rising 0.7%. In the United States, the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index eased to 57.2 in March from February’s 57.7.


South Africa’s rating cut after Gordhan ousted
Credit rating agencies Standard and Poor’s and Fitch each downgraded South Africa’s sovereign credit rating one notch to BB+ in the wake of the sacking of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan. Weakening standards of governance and public finances were to blame.



  • Fed chair Janet Yellen participates in a discussion at the University of Michigan on Monday, 10 April
  • The UK consumer price index is released on Tuesday, 11 April
  • UK unemployment data are reported on Wednesday, 12 April
  • The Bank of Canada’s interest rate decision is announced on Wednesday, 12 April
  • China reports its trade balance on Thursday, 13 April
  • The United States releases retail sales and consumer price data on Friday, April 14



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Sources: MFS research; The Wall Street Journal; The Wall Street Journal Online; Bloomberg News;Financial Times;;;


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