Weak US employment implies taper-off, with Fed likely to keep on printing money

An incredibly weak Institute for Supply Management figure of 48.7 for employment suggests that employment is contracting for the first time since September 2009 (a number below 50 implies contraction).

As the Federal Reserve aims to achieve 6.5 per cent unemployment before turning off the taps on loose money - its policy of quantitative easing - this will be read as evidence that tapering could be some distance off.

Suggestions of tapering - or a reduction in the rate of expansion of the monetary base - have panicked markets in recent weeks, worrying traders that they could be weaned off easy money as early as this year.