Exchange traded funds (ETFs) got off to a mixed start this morning as conflicting job reports coincided with crude-oil futures once again topping $100 a barrel.
- Private sector employers added more jobs than expected last month in a sign of steady improvement in the labor market, ahead of the closely-watched non-farm payrolls from the Labor Department on Friday. Employers added 217,000 jobs in February, the ADP Employer Services report showed on Wednesday, compared to expectations for a rise of 175,000. Economists often refer to the ADP report to fine-tune their expectations for the payrolls numbers on Friday, though it is not always accurate in predicting the outcome.
- On the other hand…the number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms rose in February to its highest level in 11 months as government and non-profit employers let workers go. Employers announced 50,702 planned job cuts last month, the highest level since March 2010 and a jump of 32% from January, TMV) rose almost 2% in early trading.
- European stock markets sank Wednesday after a sharp sell-off earlier in Asia and overnight on Wall Street as high oil prices and instability in the Middle East and North Africa undercut sentiment. "European equity markets are being driven lower by fears of contagion in the Middle East," FEZ) gained approximately 1% early this morning.
- FXE) is up about 1% so far today.
- Oil futures again broke through the $100 a barrel mark in electronic trading today as violence in Libya and the surrounding region sparked fears that the unrest will spread. Oil prices climbed nearly 3% in regular New York trading on Tuesday amid continuing political uncertainty in the Middle East and North Africa. "As Libyan oil supplies and exports remain severely disrupted, market sentiment remains on a precarious edge, as fears of contagion remain widespread," USO) is flat in early trading.
Read the disclaimer ; Tom Lydon is a board member of Rydex|SGI.
Gregory A. Clay contributed to this article.