Fundamental Analysis

What is Fundamental Analysis?

Along your travels, you’ve undoubtedly come across Gulliver, Frodo, and the topic of fundamental analysis.

Wait a minute…

We’ve already given you a teaser about fundamental analysis during Kindergarten! Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty!

What is it exactly and will I need to use it? Well, fundamental analysis is the study of fundamentals! That was easy, wasn’t it? Ha! Gotcha!

There’s really more to it than that. Soooo much more.

Whenever you hear people mention fundamentals, they’re really talking about the economic fundamentals of a currency’s host country or economy.

Economic fundamentals cover a vast collection of information – whether in the form of economic, political or environmental reports, data, announcements or events.

Even a credit rating downgrade qualifies as fundamental data and you should see how Pipcrawler turned this news into a winning short EUR/USD trade.

Fundamental analysis is the use and study of these factors to forecast future price movements of currencies.

It is the study of what’s going on in the world and around us, economically and financially speaking, and it tends to focus on how macroeconomic elements (such as the growth of the economy, inflation, unemployment) affect whatever we’re trading.

Fundamental Data and Its Many Forms

In particular, fundamental analysis provides insight into how price action “should” or may react to a certain economic event.

Fundamental data takes shape in many different forms.

It can appear as a report released by the Fed on U.S. existing home sales. It can also exist in the possibility that the European Central Bank will change its monetary policy.

The release of this data to the public often changes the economic landscape (or better yet, the economic mindset), creating a reaction from investors and speculators.

There are even instances when no specific report has been released, but the anticipation of such a report happening is another example of fundamentals.

Speculations of interest rate hikes can be “priced in” hours or even days before the actual interest rate statement.

In fact, currency pairs have been known to sometimes move 100 pips just moments before major economic news, making for a profitable time to trade for the brave.

That’s why many forex traders are often on their toes prior to certain economic releases and you should be too!

Generally, economic indicators make up a large portion of data used in fundamental analysis. Like a fire alarm sounding when it detects smoke or feels heat, economic indicators provide some insight into how well a country’s economy is doing.

While it’s important to know the numerical value of an indicator, equally as important is the market’s anticipation and prediction of that value.

Understanding the resulting impact of the actual figure in relation to the forecasted figure is the most important part. These factors all need consideration when deciding to trade.

Phew!

Don’t worry. It’s simpler than it sounds and you won’t need to know rocket science to figure it all out.

I suggest you visit Pip Diddy’s daily economic roundup every day so that you can stay in the loop with the upcoming economic releases.

Fundamental analysis is a valuable tool in estimating the future conditions of an economy, but not so much for predicting currency price direction.

This type of analysis has a lot of gray areas because fundamental information in the form of reports releases or monetary policy change announcements is vaguer than actual technical indicators.

Analysis of economic releases and reports of fundamental data usually go something like this:

“An interest rate increase of that percentage MAY cause the euro to go up.”

“The U.S. dollar SHOULD go down with an indicator value in that range.”

“Consumer confidence dipped 2% since the last report.”

Here’s an Economic Report, Now What?

The market has a tendency to react based on how people feel. These feelings can be based on their reaction to economic reports, based on their assessment of current market conditions.

And you guessed it – there are tons of people, all with different feelings and ideas.

You’re probably thinking “Geez, there’s a lot of uncertainty in fundamental analysis!”

You’re actually very right.

There’s no way of knowing 100% where a currency pair will go because of some new fundamental data.

That’s not saying that fundamental analysis should be dismissed.

Not at all.

Because of the sheer volume of fundamental data available, most people simply have a hard time putting it all together.

They understand a specific report, but can’t factor it into the broader economic picture. This simply takes time and a deeper understanding of the data.

Also, since most fundamental data are reported only for a single currency, fundamental data for the other currency in the pair would also be needed and would then have to be compared to get an accurate picture.

Why Interest Rates Matter for Forex Traders

Simply put, interest rates make the forex world go ’round! In other words, the forex market is ruled by interest rates.

A currency’s interest rate is probably the biggest factor in determining the perceived value of a currency. So knowing how a country’s central bank sets its monetary policy, such as interest rate decisions, is a crucial thing to wrap your head around.

One of the biggest influences on a central bank’s interest rate decision is price stability, or “inflation”.

Inflation is a steady increase in the prices of goods and services.

Inflation is the reason why your parents or your parents’ parents paid a nickel for a soda pop in the 1920’s, but now people pay twenty times more for the same product.

It’s generally accepted that moderate inflation comes with economic growth.

However, too much inflation can harm an economy and that’s why central banks are always keeping a watchful eye on inflation-related economic indicators, such as the CPI and PCE.

In an effort to keep inflation at a comfortable level, central banks will mostly likely increase interest rates, resulting in lower overall growth and slower inflation.

This occurs because setting high interest rates normally forces consumers and businesses to borrow less and save more, putting a damper on economic activity. Loans just become more expensive while sitting on cash becomes more attractive.

On the other hand, when interest rates are decreasing, consumers and businesses are more inclined to borrow (because banks ease lending requirements), boosting retail and capital spending, thus helping the economy to grow.

What does this have to do with the forex market?

Well, currencies rely on interest rates because these dictate the flow of global capital into and out of a country. They’re what investors use to determine if they’ll invest in a country or go elsewhere.

For instance, if you had your choice between a savings account offering 1% interest and another offering .25%, which would you choose?

Neither, you say?

Yea, we’re inclined to go the same route – keep the money under the mattress, ya know what we mean? – but that’s not an option.

Ha! You would pick the 1%, right?

We hope so… because 1 is bigger than 0.25. Currencies work the same way!

The higher a country’s interest rate, the more likely its currency will strengthen. Currencies surrounded by lower interest rates are more likely to weaken over the longer term.

Pretty simple stuff.

The main point to be learned here is that domestic interest rates directly affect how global market players feel about a currency’s value relative to another.

Interest Rate Expectations

Markets are ever-changing with the anticipation of different events and situations. Interest rates do the same thing – they change – but they definitely don’t change as often.

Most forex traders don’t spend their time focused on current interest rates because the market has already “priced” them into the currency price. What is more important is where interest rates are EXPECTED to go.

It’s also important to know that interest rates tend to shift in line with monetary policy, or more specifically, with the end of monetary cycles.

If rates have been going lower and lower over a period a time, it’s almost inevitable that the opposite will happen.

Rates will have to increase at some point.

And you can count on the speculators to try to figure out when that will happen and by how much.

The market will tell them; it’s the nature of the beast. A shift in expectations is a signal that a shift in speculation will start, gaining more momentum as the interest rate change nears.

While interest rates change with the gradual shift of monetary policy, market sentiment can also change rather suddenly from just a single report.

This causes interest rates to change in a more drastic fashion or even in the opposite direction as originally anticipated.

So you better watch out!

Interest Rate Differentials

Pick a pair, any pair.

Many forex traders use a technique of comparing one currency’s interest rate to another currency’s interest rate as the starting point for deciding whether a currency may weaken or strengthen.

The difference between the two interest rates, known as the “interest rate differential,” is the key value to keep an eye on. This spread can help you identify shifts in currencies that might not be obvious.

An interest rate differential that increases helps to reinforce the higher-yielding currency, while a narrowing differential is positive for the lower-yielding currency.

Instances where the interest rates of the two countries move in opposite directions often produce some of the market’s largest swing.

An interest rate increase in one currency combined with the interest rate decrease of the other currency is a perfect equation for sharp swings!

Nominal vs. Real Interest Rates

When people talk about interest rates, they are either referring to the nominal interest rate or the real interest rate.

What’s the difference?

The nominal interest rate doesn’t always tell the entire story. The nominal interest rate is the rate of interest before adjustments for inflation.

real interest rate = nominal interest rate – expected inflation

The nominal rate is usually the stated or base rate that you see (e.g., the yield on a bond).

Markets, on the other hand, don’t focus on this rate, but rather on the real interest rate.

If you had a bond that carried a nominal yield of 6%, but inflation was at an annual rate of 5%, the bond’s real yield would be 1%.

Boohoo!

That’s a huge difference so always remember to distinguish between the two.

How Monetary Policy Affects the Forex Market

As we mentioned earlier, national governments and their corresponding central banking authorities formulate monetary policy to achieve certain economic mandates or goals.

Central banks and monetary policy go hand-in-hand, so you can’t talk about one without talking about the other.

While some of these mandates and goals are very similar between the world’s central bank, each have their own unique set of goals brought on by their distinctive economies.

Ultimately, monetary policy boils down to promoting and maintaining price stability and economic growth.

To achieve their goals, central banks use monetary policy mainly to control the following:

  • the interest rates tied to the cost of money,
  • the rise in inflation,
  • the money supply,
  • reserve requirements over banks,
  • and discount window lending to commercial banks

Types of Monetary Policy

Monetary policy can be referred to in a couple different ways. Contractionary or restrictive monetary policy takes place if it reduces the size of the money supply. It can also occur with the raising of interest rates.

The idea here is to slow economic growth with the high interest rates. Borrowing money becomes harder and more expensive, which reduces spending and investment by both consumers and businesses.

Expansionary monetary policy, on the other hand, expands or increases the money supply, or decreases the interest rate.

The cost of borrowing money goes down in hopes that spending and investment will go up.

Accommodative monetary policy aims to create economic growth by lowering the interest rate, whereas tight monetary policy is set to reduce inflation or restrain economic growth by raising interest rates.

Finally, neutral monetary policy intends to neither create growth nor fight inflation.

The important thing to remember about inflation is that central banks usually have an inflation target in mind, say 2%.

They might not come out and say it specifically, but their monetary policies all operate and focus on reaching this comfort zone.

They know that some inflation is a good thing, but out-of-control inflation can remove the confidence people have in their economy, their job, and ultimately, their money.

By having target inflation levels, central banks help market participants better understand how they (the central bankers) will deal with the current economic landscape.

Let’s take a look at an example.

Back in January of 2010, inflation in the U.K. shot up to 3.5% from 2.9% in just one month. With a target inflation rate of 2%, the new 3.5% rate was well above the Bank of England’s comfort zone.

Mervyn King, the governor of the BOE, followed up the report by reassuring people that temporary factors caused the sudden jump, and that the current inflation rate would fall in the near term with minimal action from the BOE.

Whether or not his statements turned out to be true is not the point here. We just want to show that the market is in a better place when it knows why the central bank does or doesn’t do something in relation to its target interest rate.

Simply put, traders like stability.

Central banks like stability.

Economies like stability. Knowing that inflation targets exist will help a trader to understand why a central bank does what it does.

Round and Round with Monetary Policy Cycles

For those of you that follow the U.S. dollar and economy (and that should be all of you!), remember a few years back when the Fed increased interest rates by 10% out of the blue?

It was the craziest thing to come out of the Fed ever, and the financial world was in an uproar!

Wait, you don’t remember this happening?

It was all over the media.

Petroleum prices went through the roof and milk was priced like gold.

You must have been sleeping!

Oh wait, we were just pulling your leg!

We just wanted to make sure you were still awake. Monetary policy would never dramatically change like that.

Most policy changes are made in small, incremental adjustments because the bigwigs at the central banks would have utter chaos on their hands if interest rates changed radically.

Just the idea of something like that happening would disrupt not only the individual trader, but the economy as a whole.

That’s why we normally see interest rate changes of .25% to 1% at a time. Again, remember that central banks want price stability, not shock and awe.

Part of this stability comes with the amount of time needed to make these interest rate changes happen. It can take several months to even several years.

Just like forex traders who collect and study data to make their next move, central bankers do a similar job, but they have to focus their decision-making with the entire economy in mind, not just a single trade.

Interest rate hikes can be like stepping on the brakes while interest rate cuts can be like hitting the accelerator, but bear in mind that consumers and business react a little more slowly to these changes.

This lag time between the change in monetary policy and the actual effect on the economy can take one to two years.

Hawkish and Dovish Central Banks

We just learned that currency prices are affected a great deal by changes in a country’s interest rates.

We now know that interest rates are ultimately affected by a central bank’s view on the economy and price stability, which influence monetary policy.

Central banks operate like most other businesses in that they have a leader, a president or a chairman. It’s that individual’s role to be the voice of that central bank, conveying to the market which direction monetary policy is headed. And much like when Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg steps to the microphone, everyone listens.

So by using the Pythagorean Theorem (where a² + b² = c²), wouldn’t it make sense to keep an eye on what those guys at the central banks are saying?

Using the Complex conjugate root theorem, the answer is yes!

Yes, it’s important to know what’s coming down the road regarding potential monetary policy changes. And lucky for you, central banks are getting better at communicating with the market.

While the central bank chairman isn’t the only one making monetary policy decisions for a country or economy, what he or she has to say is only not ignored, but revered like the gospel.

Okay, maybe that was a bit dramatic, but you get the point.

Not all central bank officials carry the same weight.

Central bank speeches have a way of inciting a market response, so watch for quick movement following an announcement.

Speeches can include anything from changes (increases, decreases or holds) to current interest rates, to discussions about economic growth measurements and outlook, to monetary policy announcements outlining current and future changes.

But don’t despair if you can’t tune in to the live event. As soon as the speech or announcement hits the airwaves, news agencies from all over make the information available to the public.

Forex analysts and traders alike take the news and try to dissect the overall tone and language of the announcement, taking special care to do this when interest rate changes or economic growth information are involved.

Much like how the market reacts to the release of other economic reports or indicators, forex traders react more to central bank activity and interest rate changes when they don’t fall in line with current market expectation.

It’s getting easier to foresee how a monetary policy will develop over time, due to an increasing transparency by central banks.

Yet there’s always a possibility that central bankers will change their outlook in greater or lesser magnitude than expected. It’s during these times that marketing volatility is high and care should be taken with existing and new trade positions.

Hawkish vs. Dovish Central Banks

Yes, you’re in the right place.

Tonight’s match puts the L.A. Hawks up against the N.Y. Doves.

You’re in for a treat. Wait, what?!

Whoops sorry, wrong subject.

We really just meant hawks versus doves, central bank hawks versus central bank doves that is. Central bankers can be viewed as either hawkish or dovish, depending on how they approach certain economic situations.

Central bankers are described as “hawkish” when they are in support of the raising of interest rates to fight inflation, even to the detriment of economic growth and employment.

For example, “The Bank of England suggests the existence of a threat of high inflation.” The Bank of England could be described as being hawkish if they made an official statement leaning towards the increasing of interest rates to reduce high inflation.

Dovish central bankers, on the other hand, generally favor economic growth and employment over tightening interest rates. They also tend to have a more non-aggressive stance or viewpoint regarding a specific economic event or action.

Hawkish vs. Dovish Central Banks

And the winner is…. It’s a tie!

Well, sort of.

You’ll find many a banker “on the fence”, exhibiting both hawkish and dovish tendencies. However, true colors tend to shine when extreme market conditions occur.

Fundamental Factors That Affect Currency Values

There are several fundamental factors that help shape the long term strength or weakness of the major currencies and will affect you as a forex trader. We’ve included what we think are the most important for your reading pleasure:

Economic Growth and Outlook

We start easy with the economy and outlook held by consumers, businesses and the governments. It’s easy to understand that when consumers perceive a strong economy, they feel happy and safe, and they spend money. Companies willingly take this money and say, “Hey, we’re making money! Wonderful! Now… uh, what do we do with all this money?”

Companies with money spend money. And all this creates some healthy tax revenue for the government. They jump on board and also start spending money. Now everybody is spending, and this tends to have a positive effect on the economy.

Weak economies, on the other hand, are usually accompanied by consumers who aren’t spending, businesses who aren’t making any money and aren’t spending, so the government is the only one still spending. But you get the idea. Both positive and negative economic outlooks can have a direct effect on the currency markets.

Trade Flows & Trade Balance

We’re living in a global marketplace. Countries sell their own goods to countries that want them (exporting), while at the same time buying goods they want from other countries (importing). Have a look around your house. Most of the stuff (electronics, clothing, doggie toys) lying around are probably made outside of the country you live in.

Every time you buy something, you have to give up some of your hard-earned cash.

Whoever you buy your widget from has to do the same thing.

U.S. importers exchange money with Chinese exporters when they buy goods. And Chinese imports exchange money with European exporters when they buy goods.

All this buying and selling is accompanied by the exchange of money, which in turn changes the flow of currency into and out of a country.

Trade balance (or balance of trade or net exports) measures the ratio of exports to imports for a given economy. It demonstrates the demand of that country’s good and services, and ultimately it’s currency as well. If exports are higher than imports, a trade surplus exists and the trade balance is positive. If imports are higher than exports, a trade deficit exists, and the trade balance is negative.

So:

Exports > Imports = Trade Surplus = Positive (+) Trade Balance

Imports > Exports = Trade Deficit = Negative (-) Trade Balance

Trade deficits have the prospect of pushing a currency price down compared to other currencies. Net importers first have to sell their currency in order to buy the currency of the foreign merchant who’s selling the goods they want. When there’s a trade deficit, the local currency is being sold to buy foreign goods. Because of that, the currency of a country with a trade deficit is less in demand compared to the currency of a country with a trade surplus.

Net exporters, countries that export more than they import, see their currency being bought more by countries interested in buying the exported goods. It is in more demand, helping their currency to gain value. It’s all due to the demand of the currency. Currencies in higher demand tend to be valued higher than those in less demand.

Where to Find Forex News and Market Data

A quick Yahoogleing (that’s Yahoo, Google, plus Bing) search of “forex + news” or “forex + data” returns a measly 30 million results combined.

30 MILLION! That’s right! No wonder you’re here to get some education! There’s just way too much information to try to process and way too many things to confuse any newbie forex trader. That’s some insane information overload if we’ve ever seen it.

But information is king when it comes to making successful trades.

Currency price moves because of all of this information: economic reports, a new central bank chairperson, and interest rate changes.

News moves fundamentals and fundamentals move currency pairs!

It’s your goal to make successful trades and that becomes a lot easier when you know why price is moving that way it is. Successful forex traders weren’t born successful; they were taught or they learned.

Successful forex traders don’t have mystical powers (well, except for Pipcrawler, but he’s more weird than he is mystical) and they can’t see the future.

What they can do is see through the blur that is forex news and data, pick what’s important to traders at the moment, and make the right trading decisions.

Where to Find Forex News and Market Data

Market news and data are available through a multitude of sources.

The internet is the obvious winner in our book, as it provides a wealth of options, at the speed of light, directly to your screen, with access from almost anywhere in the world. But don’t forget about print media and the good old tube sitting in your living room or kitchen.

Individual forex traders will be amazed at the sheer number of currency-specific websites, services, and TV programming available to them. Most of them are free of charge, while you may have to pay for some of the others. Let’s go over our favorites to help you get started.

Traditional Financial News Sources

While there are tons of financial news resources out there, we advise you to stick with the big names.

These guys provide around-the-clock coverage of the markets, with daily updates on the big news that you need to be aware of, such as central bank announcements, economic report releases and analysis, etc. Many of these big players also have institutional contacts that provide explanations about the current events of the day to the viewing public.

Real-time Feeds

If you’re looking for more immediate access to the movements in the currency market, don’t forget about that 80-inch flat screen TV in your bathroom!

Financial TV networks exist 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide you up-to-the-minute action on all of the world’s financial markets.

In the U.S., the top dogs are (in random order), Bloomberg TV, Fox Business, CNBC, MSNBC, and even CNN. You could even throw a little BBC in there.

Another option for real-time data comes from your forex trading platform.

Many forex brokers include live newsfeeds directly in their software to give you easy and immediate access to events and news of the currency market. Check your broker for availability of such features not all brokers features are created equally.

Economic Calendars

Wouldn’t it be great if you could look at the current month and know exactly when the Fed is making an interest rate announcement, what rate is forecasted, what rate actually occurs , and what type of impact this change has on the currency market? It’s all possible with an economic calendar.

The good ones let you look at different months and years, let you sort by currency, and let you assign your local time zone. 3:00 pm where you’re sitting isn’t necessarily 3:00 pm where we’re sitting, so make use of the time zone feature so that you’re ready for the next calendar event!

Yes, economic events and data reports take place more frequently than most people can keep up with. This data has the potential to move markets in the short term and accelerate the movement of currency pairs you might be watching.

Lucky for you, most economic news that’s important to forex traders is scheduled several months in advance.

So which calendar do we recommend?

We look no further than our very own BabyPips.com forex economic calendar to provide all that goodness!

If you don’t like ours (which we highly doubt), a simple Yahoogleing search will offer up a nice collection for you to examine.

Market Information Tips

Keep in mind the timeliness of the reports you read. A lot of this stuff has already occurred and the market has already adjusted prices to take the report into account.

If the market has already made its move, you might have to adjust your thinking and current strategy. Keep tabs on just how old this news is or you’ll find yourself “yesterday’s news.”

You also have to be able to determine whether the news you’re dealing with is fact or fiction, rumor or opinion.

Economic data rumors do exist, and they can occur minutes to several hours before a scheduled release of data. The rumors help to produce some short-term trader action, and they can sometimes also have a lasting effect on market sentiment.

Institutional traders are also often rumored to be behind large moves, but it’s hard to know the truth with a decentralized market like spot forex. There’s never a simple way of verifying the truth.

Your job as a forex trader is to create a good trading plan and quickly react to such news about rumors, after they’ve been proven true or false. Having a well-rounded risk management plan in this case could save you some moolah!

And the final tip: Know who is reporting the news.

Are we talking analysts or economists, economist or the owner of the newest forex blog on the block? Maybe a central bank analyst?

The more reading and watching you do of forex news and media, the more finance and currency professionals you’ll be exposed to.

Are they offering merely an opinion or a stated fact based on recently released data?

The more you know about the “Who”, the better off you will be in understanding how accurate the news is. Those who report the news often have their own agenda and have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Market Expectations to News and Their Impact on Currencies

There’s no one “All in” or “Bet the Farm” formula for success when it comes to predicting how the market will react to data reports or market events or even why it reacts the way it does.

You can draw on the fact that there’s usually an initial response, which is usually short-lived, but full of action.

Later on comes the second reaction, where forex traders have had some time to reflect on the implications of the news or report on the current market.

It’s at this point when the market decides if the news release went along with or against the existing expectation, and if it reacted accordingly.

Was the outcome of the report expected or not? And what does the initial response of the market tell us about the bigger picture?

Answering those questions gives us place to start interpreting the ensuing price action.

Consensus Market Expectations

A consensus expectation, or just consensus, is the relative agreement on upcoming economic or news forecasts. Economic forecasts are made by various leading economists from banks, financial institutions and other securities related entities.

Your favorite news personality gets into the mix by surveying her in-house economist and collection of financial sound “players” in the market.

All the forecasts get pooled together and averaged out, and it’s these averages that appear on charts and calendars designating the level of expectation for that report or event.

The consensus becomes ground zero; the incoming, or actual data is compared against this baseline number. Incoming data normally gets identified in the following manner:

  • “As expected” – the reported data was close to or at the consensus forecast.
  • “Better-than-expected”- the reported data was better than the consensus forecast.
  • “Worse-than-expected” – the reported data was worse than the consensus forecast.

Whether or not incoming data meets consensus is an important evaluation for determining price action. Just as important is the determination of how much better or worse the actual data is to the consensus forecast. Larger degrees of inaccuracy increase the chance and extent to which the price may change once the report is out.

However, let’s remember that forex traders are smart, and can be ahead of the curve. Well the good ones, anyway.

Many forex traders have already “priced in” consensus expectations into their trading and into the market well before the report is scheduled, let alone released.

As the name implies, pricing in refers to traders having a view on the outcome of an event and placing bets on it before the news comes out.

The more likely a report is to shift the price, the sooner traders will price in consensus expectations. How can you tell if this is the case with the current market?

Well, that’s a tough one.

You can’t always tell, so you have to take it upon yourself to stay on top of what the market commentary is saying and what price action is doing before a report gets released. This will give you an idea as to how much the market has priced in.

A lot can happen before a report is released, so keep your eyes and ears peeled. Market sentiment can improve or get worse just before a release, so be aware that price can react with or against the trend.

There is always the possibility that a data report totally misses expectations, so don’t bet the farm away on the expectations of others. When the miss occurs, you’ll be sure to see price movement occur.

Help yourself out for such an event by anticipating it (and other possible outcomes) to happen.

Play the “what if” game.

Ask yourself, “What if A happens? What if B happens? How will traders react or change their bets?”

You could even be more specific.

What if the report comes in under expectation by half a percent? How many pips down will price move? What would need to happen with this report that could cause a 40 pip drop? Anything?

Come up with your different scenarios and be prepared to react to the market’s reaction. Being proactive in this manner will keep you ahead of the game.

What the Heck? They Revised the Data? Now what?

Too many questions… in that title.

But that’s right, economic data can and will get revised.

That’s just how economic reports roll!

Let’s take the monthly Non-Farm Payroll employment numbers (NFP) as an example. As stated, this report comes out monthly, usually included with it are revisions of the previous month’s numbers.

We’ll assume that the U.S. economy is in a slump and January’s NFP figure decreases by 50,000, which is the number of jobs lost. It’s now February, and NFP is expected to decrease by another 35,000.

But the incoming NFP actually decreases by only 12,000, which is totally unexpected. Also, January’s revised data, which appears in the February report, was revised upwards to show only a 20,000 decrease.

As a trader you have to be aware of situations like this when data is revised.

Not having known that January data was revised, you might have a negative reaction to an additional 12,000 jobs lost in February. That’s still two months of decreases in employment, which ain’t good.

However, taking into account the upwardly revised NFP figure for January and the better than expected February NFP reading, the market might see the start of a turning point.

The state of employment now looks totally different when you look at incoming data AND last month’s revised data.

Be sure not only to determine if revised data exists, but also note the scale of the revision. Bigger revisions carry more weight when analyzing the current data releases.

Revisions can help to affirm a possibly trend change or no change at all, so be aware of what’s been released.