Thursday, October 4, 2007

Markets Await Jobs Data

Stocks spent most of Thursday trading in a narrow range on moderate volume as investors nervously awaited Friday's Non-Farms Payroll data for September.

The report is expected to reveal growth in the labor pool of 100,000 jobs, though arguments are being made on both sides of the equation. Judging from recent commentary, the idea that the US economy is stumbling toward recession has gained traction, especially since new claims for unemployment insurance ticked higher Thursday.

Dow 13,974.31 +6.26; NASDAQ 2,733.57 +4.14; S&P 500 1,542.84 +3.25; NYSE Composite 10,142.93 +41.90

However, Wall Street diehards are hoping for a reversal of the trend which resulted in a net loss of jobs for August and a rebound, though there's no talk of where these new jobs may have been created. The housing and construction industries, mortgage and banking-related employment have all felt the sting from the sub-prime mortgage meltdown.

Nevertheless, investors were generally on the positive side Thursday. Advancing issues were ahead of decliners by a 3-2 margin. New highs retained their edge on new lows, 217-130. That margin continues to narrow, albeit by small increments, daily.

In an ominous portent, commodities advanced across the board. Oil futures gained $1.40, nearly erasing a week's worth of declines, to $81.44 at the close. Gold added $8.10 to $743.80, while silver popped 3 cents to $13.50.

The Non-Farms Payroll data is due out at 8:30 am ET, an hour prior to the opening of the equity markets. Stay tuned.

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