Trump hints at strong jobs report ahead of its release

President Donald Trump

Evan Vucci Associated Press President Donald Trump

The president's tweet appeared to be a tease of strong job numbers. Having those numbers in advance of their official release could provide traders with significant advantages since it would permit them to place pre-market trades based on what is, in the classic sense, inside information.

During an CNBC appearance on Friday, Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, downplayed a tweet in which President Trump broke with decades of precedent and appeared to violate federal law by disclosing information about the May jobs report more than an hour before it was publicly released.

"Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning", he tweeted at 7:21 a.m. ET. He suggested that Trump "should never get" an advance briefing on future reports, a comment that drew tweets of criticism from Trump supporters.

Most troubling for Democrats is that the biggest job gainers have been groups that have historically suffered from stubbornly high levels of unemployment, including younger workers, black workers and so-called marginally attached workers, whose employment is tracked by the BLS with the so-called U-6 rate.

"It's a judgment call", Kudlow said.

Trump's decision to seemingly pimp out the job numbers before they were officially released is controversial because it could result in traders taking advantage on positive data that is exclusive to the executive branch. There are government procedures for officials who handle undisclosed numbers that require a delay of commenting until one hour after they're released. White House officials have argued that it makes no sense to prohibit the president from discussing publicly available information being reported on in the press.

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When Trump tweeted about the jobs report, it was evident that he was optimistic about the numbers.

"He's the president of the United States".

Kudlow, who also spoke on Fox Business Network, noted that while the White House was wrestling with Congress over legislation to address immigration long-term, "I think you're going to see some progress" on immigrant employment visas near-term.

The chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers is traditionally given the report the day before it is released, and it can often be shared with the president after that time.

Former treasury secretary Lawrence Summers said it was a remarkable breach that in the past would have led to multiple investigations.

Some Republicans also spoke out.

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Tony Fratto, a former Treasury and White House official in the George W. Bush administration, objected on Twitter to the assertion by former Obama administration economic official Austan Goolsbee that Trump had divulged classified information.

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

"You don't want to price yourself out of the market", Thomas said.

At least one close observer of US financial markets viewed Trump's tweet as unusual.

And few expected the move to have repercussions for Trump. They're required to wait at least an hour, a rule Trump has broken already. However, given the headlines that swirled around financial markets Friday - including the US slapping tariffs on allies, and new developments in Italy's political crisis - Trump's tweet "didn't set off a firestorm of trading activity", Rupkey added.

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