Stocks closed Friday's trading session only moderately lower
and well off of session lows after a series of disappointing
For the most part, investors shrugged off surprising nonfarm
payrolls data and losses for the major averages were contained.
In other news, the USD/JPY continued to rise sharply in the wake
of the announcement of a massive bond buying program by the Bank
of Japan earlier in the week.
The S&P 500 finished the week down around 1 percent, but
is still up around 9 percent on the year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost around 41 points, or
0.28 percent, to 14,565.
The S&P 500 shed almost 7 points, or 0.43 percent, to
close at 1,553.
The Nasdaq Composite fell 21 points, or 0.65 percent, to
Nonfarm payrolls plunged for the month of March, triggering
investor unease on Wall Street. The economy added just 88,000
jobs in March compared to 268,000 new jobs in February. This was
way below economists' consensus expectations of 192,000 jobs
added in the month.
Private nonfarm payrolls figures were also disappointing. The
private sector added only 95,000 jobs in March compared to
254,000 in February and estimates of 210,000.
Despite the disappointing nonfarm payroll figures, the
unemployment rate fell from 7.7 percent in February to 7.6
percent for the month of March. This was ahead of consensus
estimates calling for no change at 7.7 percent.
Hourly earnings data was also below expectations. For the
month of March, hourly earnings were unchanged compared to
expectations of a rise of 0.2 percent. In February, hourly
earnings rose 0.1 percent.
Consumer credit rose sharply in February, although the numbers
may be subject to significant revisions as consumer credit is
notoriously volatile. Credit increased by $18.1 billion in
February compared to a downwardly revised $12.7 billion in
January. This compared to consensus estimates of an increase in
consumer credit of $14.0 billion in February.
Energy prices fell on Friday to close out the trading week.
NYMEX crude futures were down 0.40 percent to $92.90 in late
afternoon trade. Brent futures had lost almost 2 percent and were
last at $104.23. Natural gas rose sharply on the day, however,
and was last up 4.64 percent to $4.12.
As stocks fell on Friday, precious metals prices rose. At last
check, COMEX gold futures had climbed 1.62 percent to $1,579.40.
Silver was up 1.77 percent to $27.24. Copper futures were trading
down 0.25 percent near the close of equity trading.
Bond prices soared on Friday as investor risk appetite was
slashed amid disappointing economic data. Near the close of
equity trading, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF
) was up around 2 percent to $122.77. The sharp rise in prices
sent yields lower.
Although the 2-Year Note yield held steady at 0.23 percent,
the 5-Year Note yield fell two basis points to 0.68 percent. The
10-Year Note yield fell six basis points to 1.70 percent and the
30-Year Bond yield plunged a full twelve basis points to 2.87
The U.S. dollar was slightly lower on Friday. Near the close
of trading, the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE:
), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket
of foreign currencies, was down 0.18 percent to $22.45.
The closely watched EUR/USD pair was last trading up around
0.63 percent to $1.3012. Investors also continued to abandon the
Japanese yen in light of a major quantitative easing program
announced by the Bank of Japan. The USD/JPY climbed 1.40 percent
on the session. The GBP/USD was last up 0.69 percent and the
AUD/USD fell 0.50 percent on risk aversion.
Volatility and Volume
The VIX was flat on the day despite a lower equity market. The
widely watched barometer of market fear closed the session at
As stocks fell, volume picked up on Friday. Around 136 million
SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:
) shares traded hands compared to a 3-month daily average of
Shares of NII Holdings (NASDAQ:
), which have been very active in recent days, surged around 20
percent near the close of equity trading on Friday after
announcing that it had sold its Peruvian business to Chilean
phone company Entel for $400 million. The stock jumped around 25
percent on Wednesday when market rumors about the deal first
) surged better than 8 percent on Friday in what appeared to be a
technical breakout. There was no news to account for the move in
Shares of Ultra Petroleum (NYSE:
) climbed more than 7 percent on Friday. The stock has recently
been seeing some insider buying and analysts at Brean Murray
upgraded UPL to Buy earlier in the week.
F5 Networks (NASDAQ:
) plunged 19 percent after the company cut its fiscal
Allied Nevada Gold (NYSE:
) added to steep losses in 2013 on Friday, with the stock falling
more than 9 percent. Shares have been falling on an almost daily
basis in recent months.
Exide Technologies (NASDAQ:
) jumped around 17 percent after the company said that it has
retained an adviser to review its financing options.
Shares of Pandora Media (NYSE:
) fell almost 8 percent on Friday as investors worried that
) iRadio could hurt the company.
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