Bad news from Europe drove markets lower early despite better employment data within the U.S. The culprit in the eurozone remains the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) with Italy front and center.
one of Italy's largest lenders and banks saw its shares drop roughly 30% over the past two trading days. This affected all European market sectors which saw prices fall sharply. It also led the euro to decline 1.20% to a little over ¿127. Oddly, the previous bullish theme for U.S. stocks has been the combination of a weak dollar and strong stock markets. Also a weaker dollar was bullish for gold which was higher once again today. Are these relationships now shifting?
It seems too cynical to say but once the European markets were closed, U.S. stocks began to rally off their intraday lows to close mixed to higher on the day.
Investors embraced the better employment data from ADP (plus 325K jobs with many perhaps holiday seasonal) and Jobless Claims (372K vs prior revised higher "again" to 387K). Let's remember the data was from a shortened week and previous claims were adjusted higher as they have been previously 100% of the time. This makes headline improvements seem better right? Next week's report will also come from another shortened week. And, of course, Friday brings us the monthly Non-farm Payrolls report. The data in the U.S. has been improving glacially and bulls are quick to embrace it.
Also featured Thursday were results from retailers which were a mixed bag. Surprising disappointments were JCP (J.C. Penny) Kohl's (KSS), Gap (GPS), Target (TGT), American Eagle (AEO), Costco (COST) and so forth. Winners were Macy's (M), Ross Stores (ROST), TJX (TJX) and Zumiez (ZUMZ) whatever that is.
Technology was another winner Thursday led by Nokia (NOK) in the U.S. on Microsoft (MSFT) windows arrangement for handsets. Apple (AAPL) and Qualcomm (QCOM) remain big movers.
Rumors that Obama would unveil a $1 trillion mortgage bailout
got bank and financial stocks moving higher on Thursday. Is it just a rumor, a campaign stunt which would help his hated Wall Street 1% while helping the 99%? The whole concept is ludicrous but so has been everything else our central planners have conceived. Later per a source from Bloomberg: "The WH has no plan for mass home refinancing." A trial balloon perhaps?
Late breaking news is that Alcoa (AA), the first of the major companies to report earnings, preannounced a Q4 restructuring charges of 15-16 cents a share and a reduction of 12% of their smelting capacity. This isn't a bullish sign that's for sure.
Volume was light once again which is strange for this time of year when fund-flow from retirement plans should be significant. Breadth per the WSJ was once again positive.
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