Thursday, October 18, 2012

Google's Goof, BLS Correction

Mistakes happen, but, when it comes to stocks and data, mistakes are magnified by gains or losses on balance sheets or portfolios.

Today's comedy of errors was highlighted before the opening bell by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and around midday, by Google, with an assist from R.R. Donnelley.

When the BLS released the most recent initial unemployment claims, they were, in effect, correcting an error made last week, when one state did not accurately report claims. The agency never did tell the public which state was under-reported, but the figure of 339,000 was well below the estimates.

On Thursday, the correction showed initial claims at a more reasonable level of 388,000, and the prior week revised to 342,000. OK, so far.

Around 12:30 pm EDT, Google's (GOOG) third quarter results magically appeared online, although the numbers weren't supposed to be released to the public until around 4:15 pm EDT, after the markets closed. Ooops! The stock dropped 68 points in a manner of minutes, blame was heaped upon publisher R.R. Donnelley, which quickly issued a mea culpa and Google stock was halted until 3:20 pm EDT.

Upon re-opening, Google got a bit of a rise, but the damage had been done. Like it or not, the world's number one search engine reported a clean miss on both earnings and revenue, reflecting a general slowdown in the global economy and, quite possibly, a bit of market share being taken by rival Bing, owned by Microsoft.

Once markets recovered from the midday turmoil, it was back to business as usual, which, these days prior to the general election of November 6, seems to be drifting about the unchanged line. Excepting the NASDAQ, which was impacted by Google's 60-point (8%) decline at the close, the major indices finished relatively flat.

Dow 13,548.94, -8.06 (0.06%)
NASDAQ 3,072.87, -31.25 (1.01%)
S&P 500 1,457.34, -3.57 (0.24%)
NYSE Composite 8,442.91, -3.61 (0.04%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,009,088,250
NYSE Volume 3,833,238,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2276-3211
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 308-44
WTI crude oil: 92.10, -0.02
Gold: 1,744.70, -8.30
Silver: 32.87, -0.364

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