By Carlos Guillen
Quite encouragingly, stocks for the most part are trading in winning territory during today's trading session, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average once again breaking above the 15,000 level and reaching yet another intra-day high, as rather favorable economic data from abroad has enthused investors here at home.
Over in the euro zone, Germany continues to give the union life as its manufacturing sector grew more than expected. German manufacturing orders for March rose 2.2 percent, beating economists' forecasts calling for an improvement of just 0.5 percent.
Over in Australia, the Reserve Bank of Australia appears to be following on the steps of the European Central Bank, which in turn is following on the steps of our own Fed, as it surprised investors by lowering its benchmark interest rate by 0.25 percentage points to a record low of 2.75 percent. The lowering of interest rates by major economies around the world is clearly giving stocks the fuel they need to continue their uptrend; however, the irony of it all is that at the same time these accommodative actions imply that these nations are having difficulty maintaining economic growth, so they are forced to manipulate their respective economies by artificially sparking demand.
Taking a look at the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary, or JOLTS report, we can see that the level of jobs available during March is beginning to tick lower after reaching the highest level in almost five years. The number of job openings in March was 3.84 million, down from 3.90 million in the prior month, representing a 1.41 percent decline. At the moment the number of job openings still remains well below the 4.26 million openings when the recession began in December 2007; however, the long term view is still favorable with the number of job openings increasing 76.4 percent since the end of the recession in June 2009.
Left rather flat was the number of unemployed per job available, remaining at 3.1 for a second consecutive month. While there have been reductions on this metric, they have been small, showing very little indication of significant improvements. So while there are fewer layoffs, there is also less hiring going on, and for those that currently have jobs, they are much more unlikely to quit in search for something else.
In all, today's market action is very impressive as the economic drivers have been lacking, with a few data points from abroad and with JOLTS data that is more of a lagging indicator than anything else, yet the Dow continues to sneak up higher and higher, perhaps indicating investors' willingness to get into stocks on any bits of good news.