November Employment Report Preview

Heading into Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls (NFP) report for November, economists are expecting an increase in payrolls of 198K, which would be a decline from October’s report which came in above expectations at 250K.In the private sector, economists are expecting an increase of 200K, which would imply a similar decline versus October as the headline reading. The unemployment rate is expected to remain at 3.7%. Average hourly earnings are expected to grow at a rate of 0.3% versus the 0.2% reading last month. Higher wage growth is probably not something this market wants to see, but with expectations already anticipating some increase, it would have to be a big jump to really have a negative impact on the market. Finally, average weekly hours are expected to be unchanged at 34.5.

Ahead of the report, we just published our eleven-page preview of the November jobs report.  This report contains a ton of analysis related to how the equity market has historically reacted to the monthly jobs report, as well as how secondary employment-related indicators we track looked in November.  We also include a breakdown of how the initial reading for November typically comes in relative to expectations and how that ranks versus other months.

One topic we cover in each month’s report is the S&P 500 stocks that do best and worst from the open to close on the day of the employment report based on whether or not the report comes in stronger or weaker than expected. In other words, which stocks should you buy, and which should you avoid?  The table below highlights the best-performing stocks in the S&P 500 from the open to close on days when the Non-Farm Payrolls report has been better than expected over the last two years.

Of the top performing stocks on days when NFP beats expectations, ten sectors are represented, but Consumer Discretionary leads the way with nine. Vornado (VNO) has been the best performing stock with an average open to close gain of 2.11%, but six of the next seven stocks are from the Consumer Discretionary sector. In terms of consistency, just three stocks (Ulta Beauty, Cognizant, and WestRock) have been in the black more than three-quarters of the time.

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