After reaching all time highs last Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average is showing some volatility today but not really going anywhere as today is fairly an uneventful day, with little in terms of economic items to shake stock markets.
Over in Europe, there were some rather encouraging comments made by European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi who said that policy makers are ready to cut interest rates again if needed. Just this past Thursday the ECB reduced its benchmark rate by a quarter point to 0.5 percent, and it said that officials have an "open mind" about taking the deposit rate, currently at zero, into negative territory. It is becoming apparent that the ECB is now following in the steps of our own Fed's actions after holding back and favoring austerity measures. The ECB also announced last week that it will continue to provide banks with as much liquidity as they want until at least mid-2014 in order to ensure its low rates are reaching the parts of the economy that need them.
On another note, the Markit euro-zone composite managers' index was revised up to 46.9 in April, but still remained below the key 50 level that indicates expansion. Despite the upward revision, it still remains unlikely that the European economy will make any significant improvements in the short term.
Here at home, there were some other bits of good indications relating to the employment backdrop. According to the Conference Board its April employment trends index increased to 111.68 from an upwardly revised 111.61 in March (up from 111.20). This latest result represents an increase of 3.8 percent from the year ago level and is the highest since June 2008, when the index stood at 113.15. Clearly, despite the rather weak economic growth, all signs are that the jobs backdrop is still continuing to slowly improve. The board said five of the index's eight components contributed to April's rise.
In all, stocks are continuing to trade fairly flatly despite some oscillations, but this in itself is encouraging given that the Dow reached an all time high on Friday and we are right around that level at the moment and holding.