Stocks Mixed as Investors Digest Disappointing Employment Numbers

Stocks are mixed at mid-day as investors and elected officials alike mutter a four-letter word: Jobs, or lack thereof. Optimism over the last two days gave way to uncertainty following a government report that showed unemployment rising to 9.8%--the highest rate since April.

Before the bell, the U.S. Labor Department reported non-farm payrolls rose by 39,000 in November, far lower than the 155,000 gain expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch and the upwardly revised figure of 172,000 jobs gained in October.

The unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 9.8% in November from 9.6% in October according to a separate survey of 60,000 households. Economists had been expecting the unemployment rate to remain steady.

Retailers lost 28,000 jobs in November. Many economists had expected shops to add workers for the holiday season. The factory sector lost 13,000 jobs. Temporary help services and health care added jobs. The government sector shed 11,000 jobs in November.

Overseas, China said today that it will now follow a prudent monetary policy compared with its previous moderately loose stance. The change could pave the way for more interest rate increases, lending controls and less growth.

In company-specific news:

Shares of Merck & Co. ( MRK ) and GlaxoSmithKline ( GSK ) are just lower after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended against wider use of two prostate drugs made by the two drug makers. The panel said there was no benefit to exposing men to drugs that may ultimately lead to more deadly cancers being missed, according to a Reuters report on the matter.

Shares of Level 3 Communications ( LVLT ) are higher after the company said that Comcast ( CMCSA ) is attempting to protect its cable TV business by levying a charge against Level 3 for delivering movies and other content to its customers. Level 3 provides broadband service to Netflix ( NFLX ) and other companies.

Orexigen Therapeutics (OREX) shares are down sharply in Friday pre-trade after U.S. Food and Drug Administration staff questioned whether the firm's new diet pill Contrave is effective. Contrave reportedly satisfied only one of two recommended measures of effectiveness in the FDA studies and the drug was linked to more cases of high blood pressure, psychiatric side effects, dizziness and kidney dysfunction.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) remains down almost 1.5% after the trustee overseeing the distribution of assets remaining from Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme filed suit last night against the bank, seeking $6.4 billion. Chase was Madoff's long-time bank and the trustee contends it should have known the convicted financier was stealing investor monies. JPM officials dismiss the allegation as "irresponsible and overreaching."

Marvell Technology (MRVL) shares are down in regular-session trading after the company was downgraded to "neutral" by Goldman Sachs (GS), which cited Marvell's limited exposure to the tablet market and slowing growth at its partner, Research in Motion (RIMM). Goldman has a $22 target on Marvell.

Shares Walter Energy (WlT) are just higher at mid-day after announcing plans this morning to buy Western Coal Corp (WTN.TO) in a $3.3 billion deal, bringing together American and Canadian coal producers with a combined capacity of 385 million tons of coal.

Citigroup (C) brought former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez on board as the vice chairman of the firm's institutional clients group, Bloomberg reports. The move comes following news that the bank--which is more than 10% owned by U.S. taxpayers--was close to hiring Peter Orszag, the former White House budget director.

Shares of Ascent Media (ASCMA) are sharply higher in the regular session after it said it sold its content distribution business for $113 million to privately owned media service provider Encompass Digital Media. The deal is seen closing in Q111. The deal comes after the company sold its AMG Creative Services and Media Services units to Deluxe Entertainment Services Group last month for $68 million.

Meanwhile, shares of Big Lots Inc. (BIG) are lower after the retailer said third-quarter profit fell 42% from last year, earnings missed the Street by a penny and the company lowered guidance for the full year.

DryShips (DRYS) is up after it says its wholly-owned subsidiary Ocean Rig UDW intends to offer through a private placement approximately $500 million worth of shares of Ocean Rig's common stock. The offering is expected to close in December.

Commodities are just higher as February gold contracts are up $18, or 1.27%, to $1,407 an ounce while January crude oil contacts are up 0.26%, or $0.23, at $88.23 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.45% to $37.94 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 0.51% to $5.91

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 1.54% to $137.28. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 2.68% to $62.82. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 2.08% to $28.51.

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

Copyright (C) 2016 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

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

In This Story


Other Topics


Latest Markets Videos