Why today's US jobs number is the most important economic event this week


Later today, the most important data on the global economic calendar will be released: US nonfarm payrolls. The jobs report will be the most obvious sign yet as to whether - and when - the Fed will begin tapering its $85bn per month quantitative easing programme.

The timing of a stimulus cut has preoccupied markets for six weeks now. US Treasury bonds yields have risen to their highest level since mid-September, when the potential for an imminent taper was thought to be priced into the market.

The Fed has held off tapering, soothing financial markets. But yesterday, US third quarter GDP numbers jumped an unexpected 3.6 per cent - the latest in a string of positive numbers for the economy. It also showed that, contrary to George Osborne's declaration in the Autumn Statement, the UK is not the rich world's fastest growing economy.

Analysts are forecasting that 180,000 people were added to nonfarm payrolls in November. Last month, with plenty saying that October's numbers would be affected by government shutdown, 204,000 were created. The estimate was 120,000.

The surprise speeding up in nonfarm payroll numbers last month caused a big sell-off in the Treasury market, as investors re-assessed the advent of tapering. Today's report could be the vital confirmation many are looking for.

And while the prospect of a January taper looks more and more likely, some haven't entirely written off the December possibility, either.