Stocks closed higher on the day by 0.3% after being down by 1.5% at one point during the afternoon. Stocks rallied almost 2% in the final hour of trading after extreme selling on no real news. Volume was very heavy on the day, but the downside volume was twice as heavy as the upside volume. Breadth also finished the day negative at 1.5:1 despite finishing in the black. The day was a bit panicky and followed a fairly strong jobs report this morning. There was no news to send the market substantially lower so a close near the flatline should not come as a great surprise.
From Daily Futures:
The U.S. Labor Department said that the unemployment rate improved from 10.0% to 9.7% in January while non-farm payrolls decreased by 20,000. The headline unemployment rate was the lowest in five months and better than expected, but analysts were hoping for a small net gain in jobs. The March 2011 eurodollars closed up .09 at a new contract high of 98.75.
One other positive sign in the unemployment report was that the average workweek increased from 33.2 to 33.3 hours in January, the most in a year.
The March U.S. dollar index closed up .52 at 80.595, the highest close in over six months, with ongoing concerns about debt problems in Greece, Spain, and Portugal. Most commodities ended lower.
Grains and Cotton
Statistics Canada said that, as of December 31st, wheat stocks totaled 21.68 million tons, down 1.5% from a year ago. July wheat was down 1.75 cents at $5.005.
May cotton dropped 2.27 cents to 68.23, the lowest close in four months, under stress from the rising U.S. dollar and efforts by China to restrain its economy.
After the close, the USDA estimated this week’s beef production at 496.0 million pounds, up .8% from a year ago. Pork production was estimated at 437.5 million pounds, down 3.2% from a year ago. April cattle closed up .32 at 90.40.
On February 13th, China will start charging tariffs on U.S. chicken imports, saying that U.S. prices are unfairly low.
May sugar fell 1.38 cents to 25.37, pressured by Europe’s recent announcement to export an additional 500,000 tons of sugar and the stronger U.S. dollar.
A strong winter storm is expected to hit the mid-Atlantic states this afternoon. The 6 to 10 day forecast from the National Weather Service is expecting below average temperatures for the southeastern U.S. March natural gas closed up 9.9 cents at $5.515.
April crude oil closed down $2.02 at $71.52, the lowest close in four months, pressured by adequate supplies and a stronger U.S. dollar.
Statistics Canada said that the unemployment rate improved from 8.4% to 8.3% in January with a net gain of 43,000 jobs, more than expected. The March Canadian dollar ended down .11 at 93.18.
Japan’s Cabinet Office said that its index of leading indicators increased from 91 to 94 in December. The coincident index increased from 96.0 to 97.6 in December. The March yen closed up .0001 at 1.1216 after yesterday’s big jump up.
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.