Employment fears weigh on stocks


Stocks are falling this morning as investors brace for a potentially bad jobs report.

S&P 500 futures are down about 0.5 percent, while European indexes are tumbling almost 2 percent. Most Asian bourses were lower overnight as well, with the exception of Japan's Nikkei.

The Labor Department will announce non-farm payrolls for March at 8:30 a.m. ET.  Economists forecast that 192,000 jobs were added last month, but most other employment gauges this week have missed expectations. That threatens to derail a positive economic-growth story that emerged late last year and helped propel stocks to long-term highs in recent weeks.

There have been warning signs of late, however, as defensive sectors such as health care and consumer staples took leadership from financials and energy. Transport stocks, small caps, European indexes, and Treasury yields have also been falling since mid-March, failing to confirm the highs in the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Today's nervousness toward the payrolls number is overshadowing better-than-expected Eurozone retail sales and strong German manufacturers orders. Next week, attention will also begin to focus on individual companies as corporate earnings season gets underway.

Commodities and currencies are modestly bearish, but not dropping as much as one might expect based on the declines in European stocks. Oil and copper are down by about one-third of a percent, but precious metals are advancing modestly after testing support from last summer. Agricultural products are modestly negative.

The euro, Australian dollar, and Canadian dollar, which often follow equities, are down fractionally against the U.S. dollar.

In company-specific news, technology stock F5 Networks is indicated to fall sharply after pre-announcing weak quarterly revenue because of a slowdown in government spending.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 OptionMonster® Holdings, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: SPX



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