Midday Update: Mixed Jobs Data Leaves Wall Street Directionless

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Bulls and bears are wrestling today with a surprisingly weak December jobs report and its potential impact on Federal Reserve monetary policy. At issue is the paltry 74,000 new workers employers added to payrolls last month compared with a 0.3% drop in the U.S. unemployment rate to a 62-month low.

Experts were nearly unanimous in their conclusions the December data is an aberration - negatively influenced by inclement weather and another big decline in the labor participation rate - but uncertainty on how the jobs report will influence Fed policy-makers has the stock market wandering with little conviction between modest losses and slim gains.

Retail stocks are again on the defensive with weakness for shares of store-owners like Sears ( SHLD ) and PacSun ( PSUN ) while the NYSE Composite index is holding onto a small gain thanks to another strong day in the biotech sector.

Non-farm payrolls increased by an anemic 74,000 in December, well below the consensus estimate expecting a 191,000 gain. November hiring was revised upward by 38,000 additional workers while the jobless rate fell to 6.7% - its lowest mark since October 2008.

Other data today included an as-expected 0.5% gain in November wholesale inventories.

European markets held onto its earlier gains thanks to much better than expected production data from France and Spain along with overall EU GDP.

Crude oil was up $0.80 to $92.47 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.04 to $4.02 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $14.50 an ounce, while silver was up $0.41 to $20.09 an ounce. Copper was up $0.04 to $3.34 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.18% to $33.14 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 0.15% to $19.71. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 2.81% to 21.88 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 1.29% to $119.98. The iShares Silver Trust was up 2.65% to $19.34.

Here's where the U.S. markets stand at mid-day:

NYSE Composite Index up 9.93 (+0.10%) to 10,335.67

Dow Jones Industrial Average down 36.60 (-0.22%) to 16,408.16

S&P 500 down 2.16 (-0.12%) to 1,835.97

Nasdaq Composite Index down 4.07 (-0.10%) to 4,152.13

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index up 0.20%

Hang Seng Index up 0.26%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.71%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.73%

CAC 40 up 0.60%

DAX up 0.55%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.01%

NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.22%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index down 0.08%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) ICPT (+62.61%) Continues Thursday's rally triggered after its obeticholic adic study for the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis was stopped early after an interim analysis showed it already met the primary endpoint.

(+) IMMU (+13.9%) Reported the first patient dosing in the company's Phase III registration study of its pancreatic cancer drug, yttrium-90 (90Y)-clivatuzumab tetraxetan.

(+) ANF (+9.8%) Boosts its guidance for full-year adjusted earnings based on better-than-expected sales and cost cuts.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) CHTP (-26.4%) FDA briefing document on Northera cites "lack of sufficient evidence of efficacy".

(-) PSUN (-15.7%) Expects its Q4 non-GAAP loss per diluted share from continuing operations to be in the range of $0.21 - $0.18 versus estimates of a loss of $0.14 per share.

(-) BV (-13.8%) Federal judge in San Francisco ruled in favor of the government in its anti-trust lawsuit challenging the company's acquisition of rival PowerReviews.

(-) SHLD (-13.5%) Retailer said it expects a net loss between $2.01-$2.98 per share, excluding special items. Full-year net loss is projected at $7.64 to $8.61 per share.



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 (C) 2014 MTNewswires.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.


This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: PSUN , SHLD

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