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Donald Trump

Donald Trump tweets about improvements in US employment before official announcement - causing concern from critics

Concerns are raised about the possible disclosure of market-sensitive information

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 June, 2018, 12:56am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 June, 2018, 5:02am

US President Donald Trump signalled in advance on Friday morning that the monthly US employment report was going to be favourable – a break with past practice of presidents who avoided disclosure of market-sensitive information.

“Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning,” the president tweeted at 7:21am, causing concern that he was breaching rules about handling secret documents.

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The Department of Labour reported at 8:30am that US unemployment had dropped to 3.8 per cent, its lowest level since 1969 as the economy added a higher-than-expected 223,000 jobs in May.

Some White House officials are given access to the monthly employment data the day before the report is released publicly, and the president is routinely briefed on the numbers on Thursday.

Most jobs reports are released on the first Friday of each month. There are government procedures for officials who handle undisclosed numbers that require a delay of commenting until one hour after they’re released.

“They’re treated like state secrets,” Alan Krueger, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Obama administration, said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio before the employment report came out.

“It doesn’t look good,” said Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com’s senior economic analyst. “As has been said so many times by the president’s supporters as well as his critics, this is another case where it would be better for President Trump would be wise to spend his time doing something other than tweeting.”

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Lawrence Kudlow, director of Trump’s National Economic Council, said in a brief interview that Trump had the numbers last night and that his tweet wasn’t meant to signal a positive report.

“I don’t think he gave anything away” in the tweet, Kudlow said in a separate interview with CNBC.

Trump’s social-media post was met with tepid reaction in financial markets, where investors assess more than just the headline numbers. US stocks jumped in early trading. After Trump’s tweet, the two-year Treasury yield climbed one basis point, while the dollar stayed flat.

The jobs report also showed wage gains — mediocre for years — exceeded estimates, rising 2.7 percent from a year earlier.

Omair Sharif, a senior US economist at Societe Generale, said that the tweet now creates a conundrum for traders ahead of future jobs reports.

“I don’t know if people should object, but it adds a little extra uncertainty prior to the release that could impact what people in the market are thinking just before the data come out,” he said. “If they don’t get a tweet next time, people will think it’s going to be a bad print.”