Stocks spent the day regaining morning losses and ended Friday’s session slightly higher, with both the Dow and the Standard Poor’s 500 index setting fresh closing records. A tepid jobs report caused the market to fall early on, but led to speculation that the Federal Reserve might think twice about cutting back on bond purchases in September.
The SP 500 (^GPSC) gained 2.80 points, or 0.16 percent, to 1,709.67. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) added 30.34 points, or 0.19 percent, to 15,658.36, and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) rose 13.84 points, or 0.38 percent, to 3,689.59.
The government reported that 162,000 jobs were created last month, pushing the unemployment rate down to a 4½-year low of 7.4 percent. The number of jobs added was the lowest since March and well below the 183,000 economists polled by FactSet were expecting.
The Commerce Department reported that consumers increased their spending by 0.5 percent in June, the fastest pace in four months. But income growth slowed to 0.3 percent after a 0.4 percent gain in May.
Investors have been watching economic reports closely and trying to anticipate when the Fed will start easing back on its economic stimulus. The central bank is buying $85 billion in bonds a month to keep long-term interest rates low and encourage borrowing. That easy-money policy has boosted the stock market to record levels: The SP 500 closed above 1,700 for the first time Thursday.
Energy stocks fell more than the rest of the market after Chevron (CVX) became the latest big energy company to disappoint investors with lower earnings. Chevron’s profit fell 26 percent to $5.4 billion due to lower oil prices and maintenance work at refineries. The stock fell $1.61, or 1.27 percent, to $124.83, the biggest drop of the 30 stocks in the Dow.
Among other companies reporting earnings, LinkedIn (LNKD) surged $22.56, or 10.6 percent, to $235.56 after the professional networking company’s results topped analyst estimates. LinkedIn had its biggest quarterly membership gain since going public in May 2011.
More Stocks in the News:
- Viacom (VIA) surged 6.53 percent to $79.78 after the media company said its income rose 20 percent in the latest quarter, boosted by affiliate fee revenue from its cable TV channels and higher advertising earnings. Viacom also increased its stock buyback program to $20 billion from $10 billion.
- American International Group (AIG), the insurer that was bailed out by the government during the financial crisis, rose 2.7 percent to $48.33 after the company said late Thursday that its profit grew 17 percent in the second quarter. AIG also announced its first dividend since 2008, when it nearly collapsed, and said its board approved a $1 billion stock buyback plan.
- Shares of Toyota (TM) rose 6.4 percent after the Japanese automaker reported its quarterly net profit nearly doubled from a year ago, helped by a weaker yen. On Thursday, the company reported sales in July jumped 17 percent, part of an industrywide surge. Shares ended at $134.33.
- Weight Watchers International (WTW) plunged 19.2 percent to $38.00 after reporting late Thursday that its second-quarter net income fell 16 percent as it booked costs related to the early extinguishment of debt. The company also named a new CEO and said recruitment trends are weak.
- Dell (DELL) rose 5.6 percent to $13.68 after a special committee of the company’s board agreed to an increased offer from founder Michael Dell that would add a special dividend.
- And Facebook (FB) rose 56 cents, or 1.5 percent, to close above its IPO price for the first time, at $38.05.
What to Watch Monday
- The Institute for Supply Management releases its service sector index for July at 10 a.m. Eastern time.
These major companies report quarterly earnings:
–Compiled from staff and wire reports.
So you’re seeing a lot of strength in housing, and it’s coming from almost every place geographically … So that’s sort of the big winner. Auto and that whole complex is a big winner. They’re doing over 15 million cars this year, up from 8.5 at the bottom. And then you have the energy complex, which is really, really a revolution. This is hard to underestimate the impact of energy and all the natural gas that’s being produced and all the subsidiary types of things that come from that activity. And if you add on top of that, technology which is still a very big pocket of strength and quite robust in the United States, you’ve got some really good stuff happening.
On the other hand we do have the U.S. government at work, trying to decrease growth as rapidly as they can. And so they’ve, unfortunately, had some success in that area, and that leaves us somewhere in the 2%-plus area.
On the positive side, economic fundamentals in the United States continue to improve. The main impediment to growth appears to be the speed and nature of the withdrawal of fiscal stimulus. Debate has actually now opened up on how and when to withdraw some of the monetary expansion. All of this is very good news.
At the same time, the rest of the world looks no stronger. Europe is mired in a recession, Asian growth seems more modest and Japanese attempts to restimulate their economy through monetary stimulation have set off further downward pressure on interest rates and currency values.
The overriding driver of recovery in the housing market remains the underproduction of both single and multifamily product throughout the economic downturn and up to and including this year. Over the past 5 years of housing production, we’ve built an average of under 700,000 single and multifamily homes total per year, with an average obsolescence rate of approximately 300,000 per year. This compares to a need for new dwelling units per year of between 1.2 million and 1.5 million.
This year, a significantly stronger year of building activity, we will produce approximately 950,000 single and multifamily dwellings, and again, will underserve the country’s needs. We have more than absorbed the overbuilding of the early to mid-2000s, and have been underproducing for a protracted period of time. This shortfall will have to be made up, and the builders of both multi and single-family products have been pushing to increase production.
I think when you look at some of the economic indicators, housing starts are up, prices are up on housing. I think housing is a really important measure for us because we have a lot of jobs around that. A lot of contracting roofers, et cetera, around that. All of that is positive. And so we’re feeling like we’re coming off the end of the year with some momentum, and that will certainly help us.
Although we have seen recent improvements in the U.S. economy, growth is relatively light and confidence remains fragile. In addition, while the market generally feels better about the tail risk in Europe, the economy is challenged.
Given the continued uncertainty in the market, we are not managing the firm with the hope that the macro backdrop will improve. We are focused on managing through a continued difficult operating environment.
The situation in Europe is not even slightly better. It’s probably slightly worse. Even if we do not have a Greece event, if you will, the environment is moving from an economic standpoint to recession. And so the mood with our clients over there is still to be thoughtful and to be very mindful about the way they invest. And when clients are thoughtful and mindful, they tend to wait a little bit more and to think further on when and how much they’re going to invest.
“I think the whole thing about the 2% extra payroll tax wasn’t helpful. Don’t forget, in America, the average household makes $50,000. 2% is $1,000 a year. I mean, after tax, that’s a hurt in their pocketbook. Gas prices have been going up. I — and you’ve seen the retailer results, the Walmarts, Kmarts, Targets, Costcos of the world had, had results less than they expected, not very good. So it’s weak. I don’t think it’s — I’m not ready to declare it’s a permanent decline or a second dip on the recession there, but it’s a little nervous as far as what’s going on up there.”
We’re really proud now that the [government budget] deficit could only be $600 billion in the year, and while that’s encouraging, it doesn’t do anything to fix the long-term problem, and the long-term problem is entitlements. If you take a look at the Medicare and Medicaid in particular and some on Social Security that while debt as a percent of GDP is we’ll say around 75% today and under the new estimate grows to 83% by the end of the decade … You take those same numbers, go up to the next decade and it goes to 135% debt as a percentage of GDP largely driven by the baby boomer generation retiring which no politician, Republican or Democrat, really wants to talk about. They’re more than willing to say we got to reform entitlements but as soon as you say well, like what, that’s when they all start to back off because they don’t want to anger the voters.
I think there’s a lot of concern about central banks not just in the U.S., China elsewhere, and maybe they stretched themselves out, and they played this maybe game, you want to call it for quite a while and maybe they are getting a brick wall, and the days of easy and free money may be coming to an end or at least maybe tapering off. But it probably wouldn’t be good [for the global economy in the short-term], maybe good for long-term because then it would be more based upon fundamentals rather than speed injections.
Photo: Park Electrochemical
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