Friday, February 20, 2009

Market Reflections 2/19/2009

Another 600,000 plus level in first-time weekly jobless claims together with another record level of continuing claims are raising talk of a 600,000 or more contraction in monthly payrolls. Employment data in the Philadelphia Fed's monthly report, like the Empire State report earlier this week, are strongly signaling deepening job losses and deepening contraction in the manufacturing sector.

Other data in the session included a surprise 0.4 percent gain in the index of leading economic indicators, a gain reflecting the massive monetary stimulus underway that most expect will help reverse the recession. And for the most part, the markets continue to show patience in anticipation that stimulus will in fact work.

But stocks once again closed at their lows, down 1.2 percent for the Dow industrials which is now below 7,500. The dollar edged back following its recent strength, giving back about 1 cent against the euro to tend at $1.2668. Money also moved out of Treasuries where the 10-year yield rose 10 basis points to 2.85 percent.

A rare draw in crude inventories gave a big lift to oil prices where the April WTI contract ended at just under $40 for a $3 gain on the day. Gold edged back a little, down $15 to $974 amid talk that selling by weak longs, that is first-time buyers who were attracted to gold's safe-haven value, could accelerate a down move.

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