American stocks made broad based gains at the open today after surprising news from China renewed hopes of fiscal easing. The jobless data, statements from Chairman Ben Bernanke and second quarter 2012 earnings outlooks later dragged on stocks, paring the gains made in early morning trading. Later, new capital requirements financial institutions sent stocks into negative territory.
Futures were up sharply this morning after China made a surprise interest rate cut. The worlds largest economy cut its key benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 3.25%. The cut was not expected and comes after signs the Chinese economy is slowing more than previously expected. Traders saw the move as a positive as it will help to curb the slowing economy which has been dragging on global GDP. China's industrial production data is expected out over the weekend and is expected to show more weakness and support the decision to cut rates.
Futures declined slightly after the release of this weeks unemployment data but quickly recovered and pointed to a strong opening. Initial jobless claims for the week ending June 2, 2012 fell by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 377,000 claims. Last weeks data was revised upward by 6,000 to 389,000, which made up half of this weeks total decline. The number was lower than the expected 380,000 but does not reverse the recent upward trend in initial claims. The four week moving average of initial claims also continued to rise, adding 1,750 to total 377,750 and marking a third week of increases in the average.
Continuing claims for unemployment ticked upward this week to 3.293 million. The number is a five week high and may be a sign the down trend in continuing claims is broken.
Total claims for unemployment continued their decline but this number lags the initial claims data by two weeks. The recent uptrend in initial claims and last weeks spike in continuing claims could be a sign the job market is taking a turn for the worse.
Ben Bernanke made statements today on Capital Hill that support the apparent reversal of trend in the jobless data, saying that the gains made earlier in the year was the economy playing â€œcatch upâ€ and that those gains were probably over. He went on to say that the labor markets were in need of further support from the federal government. Chairman Bernanke pointed out that the European crisis was weighing on US exports, jobs and hurting our GDP. He made no real comments concerning any more easing of fiscal policy but when asked said that â€œnothing was really off the table yetâ€.
There were some signs of resilience in the world economy today. Australia made a surprising gain in new jobs, outpacing analyst estimates by a wide margin. Unemployment remained steady in the country despite the surprising gain in new jobs. The gain in employment helped to boost the Australian dollar in today's trading.
The Bank of England held firm on their position of no further economic easing. The central bank feels the island nation is strengthening on its own, led by gains in the services sector. The central bank remains on alert though as the European debt crisis continues to unfold.
The rate on 30 year US bonds made modest gains today.
US 30 year bond rates, daily
The price of gold had been treading water until the Federal Reserve Chairman's tatements took hopes of near term easing out of the picture. Following his statements gold dropped over 2%, falling below $1600. Gold stocks took a beating with the Philadelphia Gold Index dropping more than 4%.
Gold Index, daily
Oil prices were volatile today as conflicting information confused traders. China's easing of interest rates renewed hopes of increased future demand but the statement by Bernanke put the expectation back into perspective. An early 2% gain was erased following the statements and sent the price of oil back below $84.
Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman told shareholders today that it could take up to five years for the company to fully recover. The stock responded by moving higher after the opening but was soon capped off by its short term moving average. Today's comments come on the heels of HP's recent earnings release and announced plans of productivity and restructuring improvements. The company is committed to returning shareholder value in the form of dividends and share repurchases and is planning on reinvesting planned savings from business improvements.
Hewlett Packard, daily
Lululemon announced its most recent quarterly earnings today and dissappointed its investors. The company announced a 53% increase in quarterly revenue and a 25% in comparable store sales but the gains did not meet expectations and to compound the shortfall the company lowered its guidance. Lululemon expects second quarter revenue to fall short of first quarter results and for the full year to come in below previous expectations do to slowing sales growth. Shares of the stock dropped more than 8% on heavy volume.
Agilysys, provider of software solutions to the hospitality and retail industries reported its earnings after the bell today. Shares of the stock were lifted with the market at open but traded down into the close. The company reported an 11% increase in revenue for the quarter and guided fiscal 2013 earnings higher. The stock lost over 4% in today's trading and held steady in after hours trading.
Smuckers produced some sweet results in the recently ended quarter and fiscal year. Net sales were up for the quarter and the full year by 14% and 15% respectively. The strong year resulted in record cash levels for the company and Smuckers expects the next year to realize further sales gains. Company projections show growth in the 7% range. Shares of the stock moved higher in today's trading but were halted at the short term moving average.
JM Smucker, Daily
Comtech Telecommunications also reported after the bell today. The stock traded up today in anticipation of the release and moved above the 30 day moving average. The telecommunications services and products provider was expected to earn about 24 cents a share, down 49% from last year. The estimate has been in decline over the last 2 months, moving down from a previous consensus estimate of $0.29 per share. The analysts should have stuck to their first estimates as earnings were reported as $0.29 per share.
Comtech Telecommunications, daily
Juniper Networks received a downgrade today from analysts at Needham. The downgrade was based on competition and margin issues as the networking sector goes through a transitional phase. The company is viewed as solid but the stock was cut from buy to hold. Shares of the stock declined today and are trading near 12 month lows.
Groupon and Chesapeake Energy both received surprise upgrades today. Groupon was upgraded from sell to hold by Stifel Nicolaus because one analyst at the firm believes that Groupon's value is between $8-$12. In the report he says that the stocks "sharp" decline since its IPO is over. Shares of the stock benefited from an early boost but traded down by days end.
Chesapeake Energy was also upgraded to hold from sell by Argus. The upgrade is reportedly based on the sole fact that Carl Icahn has taken control of the company and is getting whipped into shape. The company has had a string of up and downgrades over the past few months in the wake of the recent scandal centered around CEO Aubrey McClinton and Carl Icahn's interest in the company. Shares of the stock gave up 2% in today's session.
Chesapeake Energy, daily
In his statements this morning Ben Bernanke also commented on the health of the banking sector. He said that US banks have added over $300 million to their balance sheets since 2009 and are still improving. He sees the credit markets functioning better despite claims from small business and sub-prime borrowers that it is still hard to get loans. The Financial Sector Spider (XLF) jumped today gaining close to 1% in today's action until an announcement of increased capital requirements for banks sent the sector down. The recent downtrend in the stock is divergent from momentum indicators in the near term butlong term momentum is still bearish.
Financial Sector Spider, daily
Financial Sector Spider, weekly
The industrial sector was the hottest S&P sector today. The Industrial Sector Spider (XLI) jumped more than 1% today but was halted at the short term moving average. The stock is in a near term downtrend but is also divergent from momentum.
Industrial Sector Spider, daily
The technology sector was today's laggard. Roughly half the stocks in the Technology Sector Spider (XLK) were even or down from yesterday's close. The Technology Spider lost about .5% today.
The Technology Sector Spider, daily
The US stock markets opened broadly higher today with about 95% of stocks up from yesterday's close. The news of China's rate cut was seen as a good thing, causing the Dow to open about 75 points higher than yesterday's close. Recent data shows that China is slowing more than expected and the move from the Chinese government will help bolster confidence in their plans to sustain growth.
The unfolding picture in the jobs market and Ben Bernanke's testimony on Capitol Hill weighed on stocks throughout the day as hopes of further Fed stimulus faded away. Further quantitative easing is not off the table, according to remarks from Mr. Bernanke, but the stance taken by the Chairman today suggests they are in no hurry to do anything at this time. However, later in the day the Federal Reserve approved new rules to force banks to increase their capital reserves even more.
Late afternoon selling influenced by the new banking rules brought the major indexes to the days lows, erasing most of the days' gains. The Dow finished the day up about 0.3%, above the near term down trendline. The recent near term down trend is divergent from momentum but the index is still below resistance.
Dow, One day
The S&P 500 moved up to its short term moving average today before selling pressure brought the index back down and into negative territory.
S&P 500, daily
The volatility index fell below its short term moving average but remians elevated and above the critical 20 level. Bullish momentum in the index is divergent from the series of recent peaks in the index.
The Vix, daily
The Nasdaq posted the days biggest loss, shedding about 0.5% from yesterday's close. The initial jump at today's open brought the index up to the short term moving average where selling started. The move initially broke the the down trend line but by the days end the index had retreated back below it.
With the chance of quantitative easing slipping away traders will begin looking to earnings. Earnings season will begin heating up again in a few weeks and traders will be looking for indications of sustained growth and third quarter expectations. Current guidance for the second quarter has been generally weak leading to lower expectations.
Tomorrow is light for US data but expect more from Europe and China. Next week is big for US data with a full roster of data points scheduled each day.