*** ECONOMIC DATA *** - (BE) Belgium Nov Unemployment Rate: 8.1 v 8.1% prior - (CA) Canada Dec Net Change in Employment: -2.6K v 20.0Ke; Unemployment Rate: 8.5% v 8.5%e - (US) Dec Change in Nonfarm Payrolls: -84K v 0Ke (flat). Prior revised higher from -11K to +4K for the FIRST positive reading since Dec 2007; - (US) Dec Change in Manufacturing Payrolls: -27K v -35Ke - (US) Dec Unemployment Rare: 10.0% v 10.0%e - (US) Dec Average Hourly earnings M/M: 0.2 v 0.2%e; Average Weekly Hours: 33.2 v 33.2e - (US) Nov Wholesale Inventories: 1.5% v -0.3%e - (MX) Mexico Dec Consumer Confidence: 80.1 v 79.5e
- US equities are reacting relatively calmly to the disappointing December unemployment data and non-farm payrolls report. All three major indices took a dip before and after the opening bell, although the DJIA and S&P500 are off their worst levels after the November wholesale inventories data hit its highest reading since October 2004. The Nasdaq has climbed right back into the black. In the wake of the data, PIMCO's Bill Gross noted that he is worried about the Fed's exit strategy and does not believe US economy is ready for the Fed's exit from policy. The dollar weakened following the report and bonds were bid up. ront-month crude continues more or less unchanged from levels seen all week, just below the $83 handle. Treasury yields slipped following the jobs report pushing the benchmark spread back out towards all time highs. But pretty quickly the bond buyers dispersed and long end yields are back up on the day. The performance at the short end has been better as expectations for future rate hikes have deflated somewhat. Heading into the announcement the Aug fed fund futures contract suggested there was better than an 80% chance the Fed would start hiking this summer, that probability is closer to 50% currently.
- Private education firm Apollo Group's Q1 earnings were largely in line with expectations, although on the conference call executives warned that its acquisition of BPP will add to losses in its Q2 and Q4 and disclosed that its University of Phoenix subsidiary may be required to post a $125M letter of credit by the end of the month if the Department of Education demands return of unearned Title IV funding. APOL was down as much as 8% at the open, although it has regained a few points in early trading; competitors DV and ESI are down a hair in sympathy. Metals recycling firm Schnitzer Steel is up around 6% after crushing earnings estimates and offering an upbeat outlook for the industry, noting that ferrous sales volumes are expected to increase 40-50% in the current quarter. US Steel is up 4% on the news, with CMC and NUE up a few percent as well.
- Earnings season opens next week with Alcoa's post-market report on Monday afternoon. Another big round of mid and small cap preannouncements have been on the wires today, plus a big call from UPS. The shipper raised its Q4 guidance on better-than-expected results and also said it would lay off 1,800 management positions. UPS was up as much as 6% after the open, but has come off these levels; FDX peaked at +2%. Rogers Corp is off more than 13% after guiding well below expectations for FY10.
- European wind power names are up on the session after the UK announced nine new wind farm contracts with a massive total generation potential of 32.2GW. The projects designed to get the UK up to speed with its EU commitments regarding environmental targets, aiming to provide of the UK's electrical power needs by 2020. In other renewable news, Solarfun Power is up 4% on reports the firm plans to expand capacity by about 25-30% in the first half of 2010.
- FX dealers have been saying that US yields would set the tone for the start of the year based on the results of this morning's non-farm payrolls. The weak employment data helped turn initial dollar momentum around during the New York session and prevented the greenback from breaking significant technical levels against the euro and yen, while the two-year yield slumped to test 0.95%.
- EUR/USD approached its 200-day moving avg in pair near 1.4850 ahead of the data (an average was last tested back in late Dec when the EUR/USD pair was trading at 1.4200. The Dec low in the pair was 1.4215 on Dec 22nd). The 200-day moving average last breeched back in early May 2008 at the 1.3460 level. Dealers were noting that a break of the level might provide enough momentum to spark a retest the mid June pivot point around 1.38. USD/JPY moved off earlier four-month highs of 93.67 to test below 92.30 in the aftermath of the job data. The dollar was off its worst level as the morning wore on, with many believing it would still be capable of breaking key technical levels as risk aversion on the global implications of a sluggish US recovery weighed upon key trading partners.
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