Thursday, March 31, 2011

Markets fluctuate after favorable report on jobless claims

Dow fell 3, advancers ahead of decliners 5-4 & NAZ was down 3.  Bank stocks also slipped in what has been a tough month for the group.


Value 220.57 One-Year Chart for S&P 500 FINANCIALS INDEX (S5FINL:IND)
Change    -1.13   (-0.5%)

The Alerian MLP Indes rose 2 to just over 380 (3 shy of setting a new record) & the REIT index was up 1 to 236 (needing less than 6 to set a new interim high).  Junk bond funds were little changed at their lofty levels as were Treasuries.  Oil rose past $106 as fighters loyal to Qadaffi pushed back rebels from key areas in eastern Libya.  Gold rose, heading for the longest streak of quarterly gains in more than 3 decades, as fighting in Libya & concerns about European debt spurred demand for an alternative investment.

JPMorgan Chase Capital XVI (AMJ)

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U.S. 3-month
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CLK11.NYMCrude Oil May 11106.15 Up 1.88 (1.8%)

GCJ11.CMXGold Apr 111,439.20 Up 15.40 (1.1%)

Live 24 hours gold chart [Kitco Inc.]

Jobless Claims in U.S. Fell by 6,000 Last Week to 388,000

Photo:  Bloomberg

Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that layoffs are dropping & companies may be stepping up hiring.  The Labor Dept said that the number seeking benefits dipped 6K to 388K last week, the 2nd decline in 3 weeks.  The 4-week average, a less volatile measure, rose to 394K. But that figure has dropped 35K (8%) in the past 8 weeks.  The number collecting benefits also dropped, falling 51K to 3.7M (lowest figure since Oct 2008). But that doesn't include millions receiving aid under the emergency unemployment benefit programs put in place during the recession.  All told, 8.8M received unemployment benefits, slightly higher than the previous week.  Continued good news (without dramatic changes) on the jobs front.  Tomorrow is the big report for Mar.

Jobless Claims in U.S. Fell by 6,000 Last Week to 388,000

Mar business activity in the US expanded at a faster pace than forecast, signaling manufacturing remains a driver of growth in the US recover.  The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago said its business barometer fell to 70.6 this month from February’s 71.2 (that was the highest since Jul 1988) & exceeded the 69.9 median forecast. Figures greater than 50 signal expansion.

Business Activity in U.S. Expanded Faster Than Forecast in March

Wal-Mart (WMT), a Dow stock & Dividend Aristocrat, may buy more land to build stores in China which is predicted to be the world’s largest grocery market by 2014.  WMT is building its 7th Sam’s Club in the northeastern port city of Dalian, said Ed Chan, CEO of WMT’s China operations.  “When the location is suitable and site is available and meet our needs, we’ll go and work with the government directly to acquire” the land-use rights, Chan said.  The stock fell 39¢.

Walmart China Chief Executive Chan Says Seeking Land to Build More Stores

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT)

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Once again, not a lot happening as the month winds down. But Dow has another up month & will have an excellent qtr. MLPs are on fire again as the index is bumping against its records highs set at the start of the month.  Junk bond funds & REIT are also doing well after the dip at mid month.

Dow Industrials (INDU)

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