Wall Street fluctuated in volatile trading Thursday on mixed economic news. June nonfarm payrolls were reported down 62,000 versus estimated -60,000. The most job cuts were concentrated in manufacturing, construction, and financial services sectors.
The unemployment rate was reported 5.5% versus estimated 5.4% and last month’s 5.5%. Jobless claims for the week ending June 28 totaled 404,000, topping the 385,000 claims economists expected and up from the prior week. The figures were most inline with economists’ forecasts.
The Dow Jones industrial average, the biggest gainer among the major indexes, at times rose more than 100 points. The sentiment in all major averages remained generally positive throughout today’s shortened session.
The ISM Services reading for June fell back below the 50.0 level, signaling renewed contraction after reaching 51.7 in May. Continued rising costs and a decline in new orders showed service businesses slowing down. Wall Street had expected the number would come in at 51. (Levels above 50 signal expansion; levels below 50 signal contraction.) The ISM index for the service sector is again picking up a general drop in economic confidence. However, based on actual economic reports we are not seeing data that would be consistent with economic recessionary conditions.
In other news
Wary of higher energy and commodity prices, The European Central Bank increased its benchmark lending rate by a quarter percentage point to 4.25%. The move comes despite worries in some quarters that it could dampen growth, but ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said at a press conference that the fundamentals of Europe’s economy “are sound” and that the bank was focused on inflation.
Light, sweet crude for August delivery added 0.06 cents to $143.63 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the session, it rose as high as $145.85 p/b, topping a trading record set the previous day. Lower crude stockpiles in the United States, lingering concerns about conflict with Iran and comments by Saudi Arabia’s oil minister suggesting his country would not boost production, impacted again today oil prices.
JPMorgan came out today defending General Motors Corp. (GM) saying the company is not in danger of an imminent bankruptcy, however, it will need to raise about $10 billion in cash to weather the downturn in U.S. auto sales.
NVIDIA (NVDA) dipped 30.2% after providing a disappointing outlook to its investors after yesterday’s close.
The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.