Sunday, April 8, 2012

S&P 500 Posts Worst Week in 2012 on Rising Spanish Yields

U.S. markets fell on Thursday in a shortened week of trading, as rising yields on Spanish government debt continued to trouble markets. On Thursday, the S&P 500 slipped 0.88 points or 0.06% to 1,398.08. Meanwhile, the Dow fell 14.61 points or 0.11% to 13,060.14. For the week, the S&P 500 fell 0.7%, which is its worst weekly performance in 2012.

U.S. Jobs Numbers Disappoint

On Friday, the U.S. jobs data for March showed a gain of 120,000 jobs, which was worse that the 203,000 the market expected. The gain was also the smallest in 5 months. However, the unemployment rate in March fell by 0.1% to 8.2%. It was better than the 8.3% economists expected, and was the lowest since January 2009. However, the 0.1% fall in unemployment was likely due to workers giving up searching for work.

Initial Jobless Claims Falls to 4-Year Low

U.S. initial jobless claims have been consistently below the critical 400,000 mark in recent weeks. On Thursday, initial jobless claims fell by 6,000 from the previous week, to 357,000. It was the lowest level in 4 years.

Spanish Yields Sink Markets

Following weak demand in Spain's bond sale on Wednesday, Spanish debt yields rose to levels last seen during the euro zone debt crisis. Investors became concerned about whether Spain would eventually need a bailout. This sank world markets on Wednesday, and continued to drag on markets on Thursday.

Federal Reserve Minutes Disappoints Investors

On Wednesday, minutes from the recent Federal Reserve meeting helped to push markets lower. The minutes indicated the Fed will not consider another round of quantitative easing in the near future. World markets fell as a result, since investors prefer more liquidity in the markets.

Looking Ahead to Next Week

The start of earnings season next week will likely determine the direction of U.S. markets. Companies including JP Morgan and Google will be reporting their quarterly results. In addition, investors will be closely watching data from China next week, as the country will be releasing first-quarter GDP, inflation and trade balance numbers.

The weaker-than-expected U.S. March jobs data on Friday will likely pull markets lower on Monday. In addition, the rising Spanish bond yields will likely affect markets negatively early next week. Thus, unless companies post better-than-expected earnings, U.S. markets will likely fall next week.

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