Thursday’s Mid-Day Movers: 3 Stories Driving Markets

The U.S. equity markets were a mixed bag on Thursday afternoon. Underwhelming jobs data played against news that Japan’s central bank will pursue an ambitious monetary policy aimed at revitalizing the domestic economy.

At 12:50 p.m.:

DJIA: +0.05% to 14,556.90 S&P 500: +0.07% to 1,554.74 NASDAQ: -0.17% to 3,213.11
Gold: -0.33% to $1,548.30 per ounce WTI Crude:  -1.87% to $92.68 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: -0.045 points to 1.767%

Here are three stories moving markets on Thursday afternoon:

1) March serves up more disappointing jobs data today. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that initial claims for unemployment insurance increased by 28,000 in the last week of the month. Claims totaled a seasonally-adjusted 385,000, a 7.8 percent increase from last week’s unrevised figure of 357,000 and about 10 percent higher than expectations. This is the highest level of claims since late November… (Read more.)

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Separately, a report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas showed that employers announced 49,255 layoffs in March, an 11 percent decrease month to month, but a 30 percent increase year over year… (Read more.)

2) While the current tax season is coming to an end, the debate over corporate taxes is far from being over. Despite the U.S. corporate tax rate being 35 percent, many companies pay a rate well below that level. A heavily lobbied Congress and a tax code of more than 70,000 pages has provided multiple ways for firms to legally reduce their payments to Uncle Sam. One of the more common strategies involves companies keeping more money offshore where it is subject to fewer taxes… (Read more.)

3) Global markets are still adjusting to the Bank of Japan’s tremendous stimulus program. After his first policy meeting as head of the bank, Haruhiko Kuroda committed to open-ended asset purchases and suggests that the monetary base could double to 270 trillion yen ($2.9 trillion) by the end of 2014. This stimulus, $1.4 trillion over two years, is aimed at shocking the nation’s economy out of years of stagflation.

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Many observers saw the policy meeting as instrumental in setting the tone of Japan’s monetary policy heading forward. Ahead of it, there was speculation that some members of the board would oppose Kuroda’s aggressive stance.

Don’t Miss: March Queues Up More Disappointing Jobs Data.