The market was due to have a day like yesterday, so nobody blinked. Heart rates remained the same, and the bull bandwagon sank under the weight of even more believers. I mentioned earlier in the week that I get antsy when all the mavens jump on the bull bandwagon. Yes, I want everyone to eventually get on board, and in the process create a (temporary) self-fulfilling period, but it's happening too fast right now. The good news, however, is a kind of bravado that sees sessions doomed to be down for the day still putting up a good fight. This is what we witnessed yesterday, where the market climbed off of the canvass a few times only to slump into the closing bell. Not to worry because all of the smart guys are going to say "a pullback is healthy." It is healthy, and governs an orderliness that is needed for a long-term move.
I would just feel better if a few geniuses were still bearish.
There is a ton of economic data out today but one has to wonder if it matters; the big day is tomorrow. The big number is the jobs number sans census worker hiring. Sure, census workers and jobs delayed because of harsh weather could supercharge the results, but I think that the market is smart enough to look beyond anything that would be one-time or temporary. It's not as preposterous as government officials trying to assuage the obvious devastating news on jobs by crowing about mysteriously created and saved jobs. Still, there will be much sifting and analyzing of the results over the long three-day weekend. It's time for jobs to be created. There is no other way I can put it other than to say the job losses have been so severe over the last two years that we have to be at a place where just the basics of life should generate employment opportunities.
On this note, yesterday's JOLTS report from the Bureau of Labor lived up to its name; the data hits you like a jolt of lightning from Zeus. For all of the hype about how many jobs were saved and created the fact is that 4,773,000 million net jobs were erased. David Silver covered this report and does additional analysis on our homepage www.wstreet.com. Personally, I don't think that the number will be 300,000, or even more than 200,000, as I'm not sure many jobs were delayed in February and maybe Census hiring isn't as rapid as one would assume. I hope for a big number, nonetheless, because we need an uptick in confidence and that isn't happening from healthcare reform and other stuff out of the District of Columbia. On that note, I had to go to the DMV yesterday. It was a long wait although I got a break when the supervisor recognized me as the "stock man from Fox", which cut about five minutes out of my wait.
My experience reminded me that not only will there be a dilution of care but people working in the system are in for a tough time, too. The guy in front of me cursed out the women taking applications in such a harsh manner. He didn't have any of the proper documentation and when asked to come back he went nuts. I could imagine this woman must get this every single day, maybe several times a day. When the floodgates open for people that never got a good check up in the past many will be upset and voice it when they can't get stuff they want…they will demand it. It's going to be rough. In the end, I'm glad we aren't looking at the public option, yet.
The tax meter has begun and will run hard and fast four years before benefits kick in, but there is no way to get the doctors needed.
There is also no way to get medical support staff prepared for dealing with many angry people unless they can train at the DMV for a couple weeks out of the year.
In the meantime, more companies have joined the hit parade as Goodrich (NYSE:GR) said that the healthcare law will cost them $10.0 million, Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) $96.0 million, and Boeing (NYSE:BA) $150.0 million. According to human resources company, Tower Watson, the new law will cost big businesses $14.0 billion this year.
I was happy to hear President Obama announce the extension of the current offshore drilling program by expanding areas that might be drilled. The period covers 2012 to 2017, and includes the East Coast and more of the Gulf of Mexico where other countries have announced magnificent finds over the past year. I'm worried, however, that this is a bait and switch move designed to soften opposition on the next try at cap and trade. I'm bracing for something very anti-business and very aggressive.
Challenger, Gray & Christmas
Moral victory is about all one could take from the report. Although total layoffs were down 69% year over year in the first quarter, Mr. Challenger just about summed it all up by saying "Unfortunately, many people are still jobless and many businesses are still shuttered." Moreover, planned job cuts in March rose to 67,611 from 42,090 in February.
Initial Jobless Claims
The claims data was a yawner as well, no big decrease to suggest employment at the non-Census level will seriously spike and no big increase to suggest we are inching to a double-dip in the economy. However, we would point out that the economic progress could be seen in the claims data; continuing claims for example are down close to 32% from the peak hit in June 2009. Additionally, continuing claims have declined nicely from the nine-week peak met for the week-ended March 6.