Stocks Mixed as Investors Look to Unofficial Start of Earnings Season Next Week

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Stocks are mixed in mid-day trading after an equally mixed opening following better-than-expected government employment numbers although the unemployment rate remained the same. Still, the data provided hope that the economy isn't heading for a double-dip recession as many had feared.

The U.S. added 103,000 nonfarm jobs in September, the Labor Department said Friday, beating Wall Street forecasts for less than 60,000. Private payrolls expanded by 137,000 jobs. Returning Verizon Communications strikers added about 45,000 workers to payrolls in September.

Revisions to the past two months added 99,000 workers to payrolls, including turning August's zero reading into a 57,000 job gain. The government sector continued to shed jobs in the month. The unemployment rate held steady at 9.1% as expected. Average hourly earnings increased 0.2% to $23.12 in September, reversing a drop in August.

Overseas, the Bank of Japan's policy board kept its monetary policy on hold Friday, saying economic recovery remains on track, while maintaining its asset-buying and extending a special post-earthquake lending program. In its statement, the board said economic activity has "continued picking up," reiterating similar language from its September report. It said production and exports continue to increase, though the pace of recovery has moderated from the sharp rebound that followed the slump in the wake of the earthquake.

In company news:

Netflix ( NFLX ) shares are down even after inking a multi-year licensing agreement with AMC Networks that will make prior seasons of AMC's critically-acclaimed original series, The Walking Dead, available exclusively to Netflix members in the U.S. and Canada. Season 1 of The Walking Dead will be available today.

Alcoa ( AA ) shares are down ahead of the unofficial kickoff to earnings season when it reports its Q3 results on Tuesday. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the company to report a profit of $0.22 per share on revenue of $6.24 billion.

SeaDrill ( SDRL ) has maintained about 3% gains this morning after it said that it was awarded a one-year contract for operations offshore in Ghana with the newbuild ultra-deepwater semi-submersible rig West Leo. The potential contract revenue for the period is $204 million which includes $18 million in mobilization revenue. Additionally, the rig can earn a daily performance bonus of up to 10%.

Shares of Gannett ( GCI ) are down as the company said late Thursday that Craig Dubow, chairman and CEO, resigned due to disability.

Shares of Smith & Wesson ( SWHC ) are firm above 8% after the company said late yesterday that it plans to divest its perimeter security business to focus on its core firearm business. The company added that the environment for the business, had deteriorated because of reduced government spending.

Shares of Goldman Sachs (GS) are backing off pre-market gains and are now off over 3% after a unit of bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings sued one of its units, Bloomberg reported. The suit concerned a failed $1.25 billion real estate deal. Rosslyn LB Syndication Partner accused a Goldman unit of inappropriately terminating the transaction, the report said.

Elsewhere in financial stocks, Cowen Group (COWN) is advancing over 2.5% as it announced that its broker dealer platform, Cowen & Co., has appointed Jeffrey Solomon as chief executive officer effective immediately. Solomon, who previously served as chief operating officer of COWN and head of investment banking at Cowen & Co., will oversee all of Cowen & Co.'s businesses including investment banking, capital markets, sales & trading and research.

Commodities are higher. December gold contracts are up 0.12% to $1,655 an ounce while November crude oil contacts are up 0.33% to $82.84 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.09% to $32.01 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 2.3%, to $8.62.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.02% to $160.53. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 1.62% to $55.43. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 0.03% to $31.21.



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.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: AA , GCI , NFLX , SDRL , SWHC

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