Friday Afternoon Cheat Sheet: 3 Stories That Moved Markets

The markets closed up today on Wall Street, with the S&P 500 pulling back from a six-week low. Positive tech earnings helped push the NASDAQ up more than 1 percent.

DJIA: +0.07% to 14,547.50 S&P 500: +0.88% to 1,555.18 NASDAQ: +1.25% to 3,206.06
Gold: +$3.10 to $1,395.60 per ounce Oil: +0.18% to $87.89 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: +0.017 points to 1.702%
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Here are three stories that helped shape the markets on Friday:

1) Is The Labor Market Recovery Eluding Your State?  The official U-3 unemployment rate edged down to 7.6 percent in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While any decrease in the headline rate is good news, the Employment Situation report showed that private payrolls increased by just 88,000, far below the increase of 193,000 that economists were expecting.

Over the past 12 months, employment growth has averaged 169,000 per month. This is a fairly modest rate, and in turn supports a moderately positive thesis about the labor market recovery. On Friday, the BLS released its Regional State Employment and Unemployment report, which mostly supported the idea of a healing labor market. The unemployment rate decreased in 39 states and the District of Columbia year over year, and increased in just eight (three states had no change).

However, the report also showed that 11 states and the District of Columbia still had unemployment rates that were significantly higher than the national average… (Read more.)

2) Gold Plunges 7% for the Week: On Friday, gold futures for June delivery, the most active contract, increased $3.10 to close at $1,395.60 per ounce, while silver futures for May fell 29 cents to finish at $22.96.

It was gold’s second consecutive day of gains, but it comes after a disastrous performance earlier in the week. Over the course of only two days, gold plunged $200 to reach its lowest level since February 2011. In the process, it logged its worst one-day percentage drop since 1980, and the largest fall in dollar terms on record. On a technical basis, gold reached its most oversold reading since, at the latest, 1975.

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3) German Produce Prices Remain Soft: Producer prices fell 0.2 percent on the month in March in Germany, according to data released on Friday. This is more than the 0.1 percent decline expected by economists. Year over year, prices increased 0.4 percent, compared to a 1.2 percent year-over-year increase in February.

Prices were pretty soft in all major product groups, but were led by a 0.6 percent decline in energy prices. Excluding energy, March PPI would have increased 0.7 percent on the year. The PPI data confirms forecasts that German inflation will remain low this year.

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