STOCKS CRUSHED BEFORE THE JOBS REPORT: Here's what you need to know

Global bonds recovered from a sharp sell off overnight but US stocks continued sliding and saw their worst day this week. The sell off in stocks came ahead of Friday morning’s big May jobs report in the US, the last one before the Federal Reserve’s June policy meeting.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 17,906.61, -169.66, (-0.94%)
  • S&P 500: 2,097.45, -16.62, (-0.79%)
  • Nasdaq: 5,059.13, -40.10, (-0.79%)

And now, the top stories on Thursday:

  1. There was chaos in global markets. German bund and treasury prices fell overnight, sending their yields above year-to-date highs that were crossed yesterday. The sell off paused during day trading, with the benchmark 10-year treasury note finishing near a session low of 2.30%.
  2. In a morning note before the open, Brean Capital’s Peter Tchir wrote: “It is time to reduce US equity holdings for the near term and look for a 3% to 5% move lower. The Treasury weakness is NOT a ‘risk on’ trade it is a ‘risk off’ trade, where low yields are viewed as a risk asset and not a safe haven.” And Tom di Galoma, head of fixed-income rates and credit at ED&F Man Capital Markets, told Bloomberg, “This is sheer panic in the market from the standpoint of what’s been happening in Europe … Most of Wall Street is guarded here as far as taking on new positions.”
  3. The International Monetary Fund slashed US growth forecasts, and urged the Federal Reserve to delay its first interest rate hike until 2016, in a statement that crossed as the stock market opened. The IMF forecast that price or wage inflation is not likely to reach a level that warrants wage hikes until sometime in the first half of 2016.
  4. Greece got a new deadline on its €300 million-payment due to the IMF tomorrow. It has asked to bundle its four payments due this month into one lump sum it will pay in full at the end of the month. Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported the news, adding that the IMF is expected to approve the request. Greece owes a total of 1.5 billion euros.
  5. The SEC has sued a PTG Capital and a Bulgarian trader over the bizarre buyout offer made to Avon last month. Avon’s stock rocketed nearly 20% on May 14 after a filing on the SEC’s Edgar website indicated that PTG Capital Partners was offering to buy Avon for $US18.75 per share. Avon said it didn’t receive any offer. The SEC alleges that PTG Capital used a fake notarized signature to apply for its Edgar login ID. It also claims Nedko Nedev, 37, profited from the plunge through derivatives he owned.
  6. Crude oil prices fell more than 2% ahead of the June meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries on Friday. West Texas Intermediate crude, the US benchmark, tanked to a one-week low of around $US58.16 per barrel. The market doesn’t expect the 12-member cartel to make any changes to production levels, which it has increased to fight for market share.
  7. Initial jobless claims fell to 276,000 last week, versus 278,000 expected. That was the 13th straight week of a reading below 200,000. The 4-week moving average of claims rose to 274,750, still near a 15-year low, and the prior week’s average was revised upwards to 284,000.
  8. Shares of Bio-Reference Laboratories surged by up to 40% on news it’s being acquired by Opko Health for $US1.47 billion. Opko Health said it would pay 2.75 shares for each Bio-Reference Labs share, which comes to about $US52.58 per share. Opko is interested in boosting sales of its 4Kscore test, a blood test used to establish a “personalised risk score” for prostate cancer.
  9. Deutsche Bank has the most bullish forecast we’ve seen for Friday’s jobs report: +275,000, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.3% from 5.4%. The consensus, according to Bloomberg, is a 227,000 gain in nonfarm payrolls, and an unemployment rate of 5.4%. In a note to clients Thursday, chief US economist Joseph LaVorgna wrote, “the labour market inputs we use to project employment have strengthened meaningfully over the past month.” He also cited the low reading on initial jobless claims in the survey week for the jobs report. We’ll have full coverage in the morning.

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