The economy added more jobs than expected last month, raising concerns the tight labor market could push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates higher than anticipated to curb inflation, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies on President Joe Biden’s budget proposal. Here’s what investors need to know today.
1. The Economy Adds More Jobs Than Expected
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest monthly jobs report showing the economy added 311,000 jobs in February, more than the 215,000 economists expected following a revised gain of 504,000 in January. The unemployment rate edged up to 3.6% from 3.4% in January, which was the lowest rate in more than half a century.
2. Treasury Secretary Yellen Testifies on President Biden's Budget Proposal
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will testify before the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee on President Joe Biden’s budget proposal. The testimony is expected to begin around 9:30 am ET.
3. Apple Holds Its Annual Shareholder Meeting
Apple will hold its annual shareholder meeting in a virtual format today. Investors will look for product updates as well as more information on Apple's business in China.
4. Almost Half of Small Businesses Struggle to Fill Open Jobs
Close to half or 47% of small businesses have job openings they can’t fill, according to the latest monthly jobs report by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). More than half or 60% of small business owners said they were hiring or trying to hire in February, up three points from January. However, 30% reported there were few qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill, and 24% said there were no applicants at all. To attract workers, 46% of owners said they raised compensation, and a net 23% plan to raise compensation in the next three months, up one point from January.
5. Gap Shares Slide After Reporting a Loss
Gap (GPS) shares fell 7% in pre-market trading after the retailer reported a loss in the fourth quarter and fell short of analyst expectations. Gap also announced a series of executive changes as it searches for a permanent CEO. Gap reported a loss of 75 cents per share compared to analyst estimates of 46 cents per share. Revenue came in at $4.24 billion, below expectations of $4.36 billion. Comparable store sales were down 5% from a year ago. Online sales, which represent 41% of total sales, plummeted 10% from a year ago.