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Friday August 6, 2010 - 04:57:24 GMT
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Stocks Finish Lower in Light Trade on Job Data Jitters

Nervous traders kept the U.S. equity markets under pressure on Thursday following an unexpected rise in weekly jobless claims. This news made traders more cautious about tomorrow’s Non-Farm Payrolls Report. A worse than expected employment number could send the stock markets sharply lower since it would clearly send a signal that the U.S. economic recovery is stalling.

 

Treasury traders looked to the long-side on Thursday following the bad claims number. T-Bond and T-Note traders could be speculating on a weaker jobs number tomorrow. Some traders are taking outright long positions in anticipation of the Fed renewing its asset-buyback program that was beginning to get phased out. Whatever the report tells us tomorrow will set the tone for the FOMC policy meeting next week.

 

An unexpected rise in U.S. weekly jobless claims sent the Dollar/Yen sharply lower, putting it in a position to test the November 2009 low at 84.83. News that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose fueled speculation that the U.S. economic recovery is stalling.

 

The weaker jobs data gave investors the jitters, encouraging them to sell higher yielding equities. This sent traders into the safety of the lower yielding Japanese Yen.

 

The Japanese Yen is set to rise even further especially if tomorrow’s U.S. Jobs Report is worse than expected. Furthermore, the Fed is likely to put pressure on the Dollar next week following its FOMC meeting when it is expected to announce the renewal of its quantitative easing program.

 

Gains in the Yen could be limited by talk that the Bank of Japan is set to intervene. Although the Japanese government is issuing verbal interventions at this time, further appreciation in the Yen may hurt exports and the economy, forcing it to act more decisively than in the past.

 

The U.S. Dollar traded trading mostly lower versus the major currencies today in light trading as traders curtail activity ahead of Friday’s U.S. Non-Farm Payrolls Report. The employment report is expected to show a decline of 65,000 to 90,000 jobs, pushing up the unemployment rate to 9.6%. The public-sector part of the report is expected to show a loss of at least 165,000 jobs due to government firings of census workers. The private-sector is forecast to have added at least 100,000 jobs.

 

The focus will most likely be on the private-sector number. It this number comes out better-than-expected, look for the Dollar to rise.

 

The Dollar has been under pressure most of the trading day due to a surprise drop in weekly initial claims. Unemployment benefits rose by 19,000 to 479,000 in the latest week. Pre-report estimates called for a drop to 453,000.

 

The European Central Bank and Bank of England monetary policy committees voted to leave there respective benchmark interest rates unchanged at historically low levels. The ECB left its key borrowing rate at 1%. The BoE agreed to maintain its 0.50% level. Both moves by the central banks were expected.

 

Following the release of the interest rate decision, ECB President Trichet noted that the European bank stress tests completed since the last meeting have helped increase transparency and fueled a move toward restoring market confidence in the banking sector.

 

In the wake of recent strong Euro Zone economic data, analysts had expected Trichet to outline an exit strategy or discuss the ECB’s plan for its special liquidity provisions. In other words, is the ECB going to continue to provide free-flowing liquidity to the market or begin to withdraw it. Trichet indicated the ECB would consider this action on that next month.

 

Trichet failed to say anything really bullish about the Euro, but actually may have helped limit gains by stating that the second half of 2010 was likely to be “much less buoyant” than the second quarter because of the implementation of new financial austerity measures. He also added that it was too early to “declare victory” in the economic crisis.

 

Based on today’s comments, the Euro is most likely to continue to be driven by economic news regarding the U.S. economy. At this time, the ECB seems a little more upbeat about the Euro Zone economy while the U.S. Fed is being encouraged to consider the renewal of its quantitative easing program to ward off a potential double-dip recession. As long as the U.S. economy remains weak and interest rates low, look for the Euro to remain firm.

 

The Bank of England as expected left interest rates unchanged. Traders will not be watching economic reports to see if the implementation of new austerity measures and tax hikes has an adverse affect on the economy after strong second-quarter GDP data was posted. The central bank will also continue to monitor the inflation rate which is currently above the target level.

 

 

 

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