Stocks fell for a second day and the dollar sank to a three-month low after the first report on US jobs growth in April missed expectations.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,773.35, -154.85, (-0.86%)
- S&P 500: 2,072.71, -16.75, (-0.80%)
- Nasdaq: 4,899.10, -40.23, (-0.81%)
And now, the top stories on Wednesday:
- The first picture of the jobs market in April came in below expectations. ADP’s report showed private payrolls grew by 169,000 last month, compared to the forecast for 200,000. March’s report was revised lower to 175,000 from 189,000. The release from the Bureau of Labour Statistics crosses Friday morning, and investors are looking for a rebound to 230,000 jobs from the disappointing 126,000 increase in March, according to Bloomberg.
- Also on Friday, we could see a big drop in the unemployment rate. It’s currently at a seven-year low of 5.5%, and Regis Barnichon over at the Brookings Institution sees it tumbling over the next few months, based on a forecasting model. Barnichon wrote: “The model anticipates a large drop in unemployment in April, with a jobless rate at 5.2 per cent (so a 0.3 percentage point drop), going down to reach 4.5% by September 2015.”
- Stocks and bonds fell in the morning after Fed chair Janet Yellen said stock valuations are stretched. She spoke at the IMF about financial stability. Bloomberg reported that in response to a question, she said: “I would highlight that equity-market valuations at this point generally are quite high. Now, they’re not so high when you compare the returns on equities to the returns on safe assets like bonds, which are also very low, but there are potential dangers there.”
- US crude oil inventories fell more than expected last week. The Energy Information Administration’s weekly data release showed that commercial crude inventories fell by 3.9 million (vs 1.5 million expected) barrels in the week ended May 1. Last week, the build of inventories slowed down, rising below forecasts by 1.9 million barrels. Last week’s drop brought total inventories to 487 million barrels, still the highest in 80 years. Ahead of the release, Money.net CEO Morgan Downey wrote in an email that the decline in drilling by fracking is beginning to dry up inventories.
- The US dollar fell to a three-month low. The dollar index sank for a second day to as low as 94.13, its lowest point since mid-January. The Euro crossed $US1.13 today for the first time since late February. The dollar has staged a huge rally over the past few months on speculation that the Federal Reserve will raise rates soon.
- Shares of Synageva BioPharma spiked by more than 110% after the announcement that Alexion Pharma is buying it for $US8.4 billion. In a statement, Alexion said the deal would help it expand its portfolio of drugs for rare diseases. The deal includes $US115 in cash of 0.6581 shares, which implies a total value of $US225.92 per shares. That’s nearly 136% more than Synageva’s closing price Tuesday. Alexion shares fell by up to 9%. Today’s deal is the latest in what’s been a huge year for biotech mergers.
- Hedge funds are in love with crude oil. According to a report from Societe Generale, hedge funds are most bullish on crude oil among major commodities; they’re betting that the price of oil will rise. On Tuesday, West Texas Intermediate crude oil climbed above $US60 per barrel to a make a new year-to-date high, and cracked $US60 for the first time since December.
- Herbalife shares jumped by as much as 16% following the first-quarter earnings report on Tuesday that topped expectations. The company also raised its outlook for the full year. It sees earnings per share in 2015 coming in at $US4.30 to $US4.60, better than the $US4.24 that was expected. Herbalife reported first-quarter earnings per share of $US1.29 (vs $US1.01 expected,) and revenues of $US1.11 billion (vs $US1.08 billion forecast.) The report came after activist investor Bill Ackman, who is publicly short shares of the company, said on Monday that he would have to think “very, very hard” before betting against a company overtly again.
- Zulily shares fell by more than 16% after the company reported a huge miss on first-quarter revenues and guidance below expectations. On Tuesday, the e-commerce company reported first-quarter revenues of $US306.6 million, up 29% year-over-year but far below expectations for $US313.5 million, according to Bloomberg. The company reported diluted earnings per share of $US0.01, better than the forecast for a loss of $US0.04.