The market has raised its head above water again after swinging violently when this quarter's
numbers were released at 8:30 a.m. EDT this morning, and futures are back to where they started, just barely in the green.
At 8:34 a.m. EDT, the
S&P 500 futures
were up 5.5 points, about 5 points above fair value and an indication of some positive sentiment in the early going. The
futures were up 20 points, after turning down 35 points earlier at 8:35 a.m. EDT, an indication of some light buying sentiment for large-cap technology stocks in the early going.
What everyone really wants to know is whether or not
Federal Reserve boss
Alan Greenspan is bold enough or scared enough of recent numbers to raise interest rates by a remarkable 50 basis points at the
meeting on May 16.
While productivity came in weaker than expected and unit labor costs higher than expected this morning, the numbers aren't too hot, and the market may be waiting on Greenspan's 9:25 EDT speech and tomorrow's numbers to make a final decision on where it thinks rates will go.
The labor department released first-quarter
of 2.4%, below the
consensus poll estimate of 3.7%, and way under the previous quarter's 6.4%. Meanwhile, unit labor costs came in at 1.8%, above the 1.0% forecast, and far above the 2.5% decline last quarter. While productivity was lower than expected, it still shows strong underlying growth. On the other hand, the unit labor costs numbers mean productivity is losing some ground to labor costs.
Meanwhile, initial jobless claims came in at 303,000, above the
consensus poll of 272,000 and the previous week's 283,000.
"The productivity numbers came in weaker than expected, but the real bottom line is that we still have to get through tomorrow's data, " said Bryan Piskorowski, market analyst at
"All things considered, it's a decent number here this morning, but it's not going to change psychology. Our feeling here at Prudential is that the Fed will pull the trigger on a 50-basis point rate hike," he said.
Many market observers say that expectations of a 50-basis point rate hike have already been more-or-less priced into the market, so it is not entirely clear yet how far today's data will take the market.
Meanwhile, some of yesterday's losers are getting a little bounce early this morning, with
higher in preopen futures trading. Disney beat street estimates due to strong advertising revenues on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."
Another stock to watch is
, which announced a 3-for-2 stock split this morning.
Earnings continue to command some attention as the season winds down.
Today we'll hear from
Royal Dutch Petroleum
The battered bond market continued its recent slide after this morning's numbers, and the 10-year note was down 9/32 to 100 13/32 and yielding 6.442%.
Meanwhile, European markets were all higher this morning on news that the
Bank of England
decided to keep interest rates where they are, at 6.0%. The Paris
was up 15.32 to 6450.97, while Frankfurt's
was up 5.14 to 7382.07.
was trading up 7.3 to 6192.1.
Rumors abound that the
European Central Bank
intervened in an attempt to stem the euro's downward tide after it rallied at yesterday's close. The central bank has said it will not comment. The euro was unchanged overnight and was lately trading down at $0.8946.
Asian market action was dampened by fears of rate hikes in the U.S., and most major indices closed down on the day.
index was also led lower for a second day by Nasdaq jitters and local telecom stocks, closing down 263.40 to 15,314.07.
Tokyo will be on holiday until Monday, and the dollar was lately trading at 108.68 yen.
For a look at stocks in the preopen news, see Stocks to Watch, published separately.