U.S. firms reported they cut 124,000 jobs in the month of December, which was less than the 145,000 loss in non-farm payrolls economists had predicted. In a separate survey, households reported that 233,000 more Americans were unemployed, bringing the jobless rate up 0.2% to 5.8%, the highest rate of unemployment since April 1995. In December, heavy job losses were counted in the manufacturing, retail and transportation sectors. Factories alone cut another 133,000 jobs in December, bringing the yearly job loss there to 1.3 million, 7% of the factory workforce.
Since the economy officially went into recession, payrolls have fallen by 1.4 million. The jobless rate has risen 1.9 percentage points since October 2000, when it reached a 30-year low of 3.9%.
For Fed watchers, today's jobless report is inconclusive. While job losses continue to rise, they slowed from October's 448,000 and November's 371,000.
Stock futures edge higher
Stock futures have edged higher after this morning's job data as S&P futures currently trade up 2.2 points at 1,168. NASDAQ futures are trading higher by 11 points at 1,683 and Dow futures are up 19 points at 10,199.
Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $1.32. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $2.35 and set for program selling at $-0.18. Fair value for the NASDAQ-100 today is $6.05.
Daimler Chrysler rises on earnings
Auto stocks may get a boost this morning after Daimler Chrysler (NYSE:DCX) said it expects to post an operating profit in 2001 of around $1.1 billion, excluding one-time effects and revenue around $134 billion, down around 2% after adjustments. In February of 2001, the automaker had set a range for operating profits that topped $1.5 billion for the year. In overseas trading, shares of German based Daimler Chrysler rose 3.4%.