Jobless Claims Rise, Inflation Flounders, and Stocks Decline: Market Recap

Stocks declined on Thursday following a worse-than-expected labor market report. Despite data that showed weak inflationary pressures, ongoing speculation (fueled today by Richmond Fed President Jeffery Lacker) that the Federal Reserve could begin slowing the pace of stimulus helped drive equities lower.

DJIA: -0.28% to 15,233.20 S&P 500: -0.50% to 1,650.47 NASDAQ: -0.18% to 3,465.24%
Gold: -$11.20 to $1,385.00 per ounce Oil: +$0.76 to $95.02 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: -0.057 to 1.877%

Are Hedge Funds Dumping Gold? The price of gold continued its downward trend in the first quarter, falling from $1,675 to $1,600 an ounce. Sentiment reached new multi-year lows, but many well-known hedge funds are still maintaining their exposure to the precious metal. Late Wednesday, many institutional investment managers filed their mandatory 13-F with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission…. (Read more.)

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Fed’s Easy Money Policy Gets a Green Light From Low Inflation: The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, a proxy for inflation, decreased a seasonally-adjusted 0.4 percent on the month in April, slightly more than estimates for a 0.3 percent decline. This decline decelerated year-over-year growth in the headline CPI index from 1.5 percent to 1.1 percent. This is the second period in a row that the headline rate has been negative… (Read more.)

Are These Numbers a Warning For the Labor Market? Since reaching an all-time high of 670,000 in March of 2009, initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a five-year low for the week ended May 4, seeming to indicated that layoffs were back to pre-recession levels and that employers were confident enough in current economic conditions to hold onto workers. But, following the typical recovery pattern, jobless claims jumped up once again for the week ended May 11, providing a warning sign for the labor market… (Read more.)

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories:

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) really wants to get things going with new payment methods, and it seems to be leveraging just about every platform available to it, from the web to mobile devices and everything between. The company put a lot of focus on functioning well on the Internet, specifically in web browsers. A new system was developed that will allow users to store their billing information in the Chrome browser, making it quick and easy to fill in all the information necessary to make a purchase over the Internet when using that browser… (Read more.)

NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP) closed the day up 6.2 percent after news got out that Elliot Management is looking to push major changes at the data storage company. Elliot disclosed a 1 percent stake in the company on Wednesday.

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Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) closed the day up 12.6 percent after reporting earnings after the bell on Wednesday. Revenue climbed 5.4 percent on the year to $12.22 billion, beating the average estimate of $12.18 billion. Adjusted earnings increased 6.25 percent on the year to $0.51 per share, beating estimates for $0.49 per share… (Read more.)

Kohl’s (NYSE:KSS) closed the day up 4.7 percent after reporting earnings. Revenue decreased 1.0 percent on the year to $4.2 billion and missed the average estimate of $4.29 billion. However, earnings increased 4.7 percent on the year to $0.66 per share, beating the average estimate of $0.58 per share.

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) closed the day up 8.7 percent after the electric vehicle maker announced an offering of more stock and convertible senior notes aimed at raising as much as $830 million. CEO Elon Musk put his personal brand behind the offering, stating that he intends to purchase about $100 million worth of stock directly from Tesla… (Read more.)

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) stock was off about 1.8 percent in pre-market trading after reporting weaker-than-expected financial results. Revenue rose just 1.0 percent on the year to $114.19 billion, missing the average estimate of $116.42 billion. Adjusted earnings increased 4.6 percent on the year to $1.14 per share, missing the average estimate of $1.15 per share… (Read more.)

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Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s has lowered its credit grade on Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRKA)(NYSE:BRKA) by one grade, from AA+ to AA, after revising its criteria for evaluating insurance companies. Along with the downward revision, the agency said that its outlook on Berkshire is negative, citing the company’s dependence on insurance operations for most of its income… (Read more.)

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