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Thursday August 5, 2010 - 20:27:36 GMT
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U.S. Equity Markets Trading Mostly Lower ahead of Friday’s Jobs Data

U.S. equity market traders failed to see any reason to aggressively buy stocks ahead of Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls Report, putting the indices under pressure most of the trading session.

Traders began to pressure the futures markets shortly before the U.S. opening in a delayed reaction to this morning’s surprise increase in the number of jobless claims. With prices high and technical indicators overbought, investors found little reason to chase the markets higher. The action can best be described as “churning” as day traders dominate the markets today.

The surprise weakness in the weekly claims report helped trigger a rally in the September T-Bonds and T-Notes. Some aggressive traders seem to be betting on the long-side ahead of tomorrow’s important Non-Farm Payrolls Report. The trend remains up in both of these markets and is expected to remain so for a prolonged-period of time especially if a weaker than expected jobs report forces the Fed to renew its quantitative easing problem when the FOMC meets on August 10.

The U.S. Dollar is 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.

Look for sideways trading the rest of the afternoon and overnight as volume is expected to thin ahead of tomorrow’s important U.S. jobs report.


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