Ahead of Wall Street - May 10, 2012 - Ahead of Wall Street

By Sheraz Mian,

Shutterstock photo

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The favorable Jobless Claims reading this morning is welcome, particularly given last week's April non-farm payroll miss. The labor market is at the core of the economic recovery story, and the weak run of recent jobs reports has been raising questions about that narrative.

But this positive news is unlikely to cause a shift in the market's focus from the continuing Greek saga. Even the soft outlook from Cisco ( CSCO ), a bellwether for global tech spending trends, and lower than expected Chinese trade growth numbers had European angles, highlighting that the region's problems are more than just a headline risk for the broader global economy.

Last week's soft jobs report for April, which came after a similarly disappointing reading the month before, appeared to confirm the fears of many that the labor market might be losing momentum. Today's Jobless Claims data is reassuring in the sense that it runs counter to that trend. Initial Jobless Claims dropped 1K last week to 367K. The prior-week's tally was revised higher by 3K from the originally reported 365K.

So, in a way, one could say that saw a 2K rise from last week's level, while the expectation was for a roughly 5K increase. The four-week average, which helps smooth out the inherent week-to-week jumpiness of this number, dropped by 5.2K to 379K.

This is a reassuring read on the labor market as it helps confirm the much sharper fall last week and helps reverse the negative trend of the preceding weeks. If this trend remains in place over the next few weeks and the weekly claims tally drops back to the 360K level, then it will confirm that the seasonal distortions explanation for the recent weakness in the labor market. We are certainly not there yet, but this is a net-net good report.

Cisco's weak guidance for the current quarter and its lack of visibility about the second half of the year is disconcerting given the company's status as a proxy for global tech spending trends. Since the bulk of Cisco's revenue each quarter comes from new sales, its outlook has long been viewed in the market as providing insights into corporate IT spending trends.

Europe was cited as key factor in the company's soft outlook, which figures in the weak guidance from Priceline ( PCLN ). Priceline also reported strong earnings after the close on Wednesday, but its current quarter guidance fell short of expectations.

Sheraz Mian

Director of Research

CISCO SYSTEMS (CSCO): Free Stock Analysis Report
PRICELINE.COM (PCLN): Free Stock Analysis Report
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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Stocks , US Markets
Referenced Stocks: CSCO , PCLN

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