The general markets were down fractionally on higher volume, with the NYSE-based indexes logging a distribution day. The Russell 2000 Index, the market's leading index, managed to close up on the day, bucking the action in all the other major market indexes. The markets continue to trade in a relatively tight band, with the NASDAQ Composite baby-stepping higher since its gap up on the first trading day of the year, primarily due to weakness in Apple (AAPL) which carries the highest weighting in the index.
In mixed economic news, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said that both planned layoffs and planned hirings rose in January. First-time jobless claims were worse than expected. While personal income came in above views, personal spending missed consensus views. The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index was much stronger than expected. These economic news items had little impact on the markets.
This morning's BLS jobs number came in under expectations with the unemployment rate rising to 7.9% from last month's 7.7%. While this is not good news for job seekers, stocks are reacting positively initially given that the Fed is keying monetary policy to the unemployment rate. Thus today's jobs numbers ensured continued QEternity, and so gold and silver are reacting positively as well. We'll see how things shape up by the open and throughout this first day of trading in February.
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