NEW YORK (
) -- Friday's session is all about the April jobs report.
It's really as simple as that. The current consensus is for nonfarm payrolls to have swelled by 162,000 last month, according to
. Excluding the impact of government employment changes, nonfarm private payrolls are pegged at 167,000. The unemployment rate is seen hovering at 8.2%.
Meeting those expectations would be a step in the right direction after March's dismal 120,000 performance, but Wall Street's confidence has been shook. The Automatic Data Processing report on Wednesday was well short, and while a lot of lip service is paid to the ADP data being unreliable, traders seem loathe to ignore it this time around. After all, the solid read on weekly initial jobless claims Thursday morning was only good about three minutes of positive trading before all three major U.S. equity indices sank below the flat line.
Right now, it feels like where April's number comes in is really anyone's guess. The recent data has been that hard to draw any conclusions from.
UBS offered up a tidbit of hope for the bulls on Thursday, noting the ADP data has been "much weaker" than the official government numbers in April the past two years.
"In 2011, the ADP initial reading was 179k, BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] initially reported 268k," the firm said. "In 2010, the ADP initial print was 32k and the BLS initial print 231k. The two misses averaged 144k. For comparison, the average miss in other months (excluding April) was 63k in 2010 and 2011."
UBS is looking for a "180k rise in private payrolls, 170k in total, and the unemployment rate ticking down to 8.1%" so it's confident Wall Street is in for a positive surprise.
Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at
High Frequency Economics
, though is less confident, forecasting a fairly big miss because he thinks the ADP data will be closer to the mark.
"ADP is the best single indicator of the official number on a month-to-month basis, so we have to take it seriously," he wrote in commentary late Thursday. "It is not guaranteed to be right, not least because the official number is accurate to within plus or minus 100K or so, but it is the best we have. It suggests payrolls rose only about 125K."