Initial Claims for the first week of 2011 shot higher by 35,000, jumping to 445,000. This shocked the market slightly as many had hoped the jobs market had turned a corner. During the last couple weeks of December, jobless claims had dropped to the 400,000 range. The key to the previous low numbers was mainly due to the holidays. Many companies will wait to lay off employees until after the new year, not wanting the bad press of a Chistmas firing. In addition, many newly unemployed workers will wait to file for unemployment until after the holidays, opting to spend time with their families. This happens every year and in January, Jobless Claims shoot higher again. This was no different in 2011.
While Jobless Claims were poor, after early selling, the markets recovered to the flat line. This is common and something that has been happening since before Thanksgiving. Between the extreme, unnatural light volume and the Federal Reserve propping via POMO, the markets are unlikely to see much selling until something very negative happens. Whatever occurs must be a shock to the system and something the Federal Reserve did not expect. If that happens, volume would shoot higher leaving the Federal Reserve unable to prop the markets up.
The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY) is currently trading at $128.58 with no change on the day. The leaders today are the Nasdaq 100 stocks. Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has been strong from the start as well as Research In Motion Limited (NASDAQ:RIMM). Banks are mixed as they await JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) earnings pre market tomorrow. The weakest stocks seem to be some of the highest flying commodity plays like Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM).
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