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

Mr. Market was in a good mood on Thursday as U.S. stocks advanced. As expected, the European Central Bank announced on Thursday that it will lower the interest rate on both the marginal lending facility and main refinancing operations within the Eurosystem. Effective May 8, the rate on the marginal lending facility will be decreased by 50 basis points to 1.0 percent, and the rate on main refinancing operations will be decreased by 25 basis points to 0.50 percent. The interest rate on the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.0 percent.

At 12:30 p.m.:

DJIA: +0.73% to 14,808.20 S&P 500: +0.86% to 1,596.34 NASDAQ: +1.09% to 3,335.11
Gold: +$22.40 to $1,468.40 per ounce Oil: +$2.13 to $93.16 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: -0.002 points to 1.628%

Here are three stories moving markets on Thursday afternoon:

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1) Challenger Job Report: Widespread Downsizing Not on the Horizon Just Yet: Job cuts fell to their lowest level since December, according to the latest report on downsizing activity released Thursday by the outplacement consultancy firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Employers planned to cut payrolls by 38,121 in April — a 23 percent decrease from March and 6 percent decrease from the 40,559 planned job cuts announced in April 2012. Despite this decrease, in the first four months of the year, the rate of downsizing has been nearly equal to a year ago. So far in 2013, employers have announced 183,162 layoffs, a figure just 0.27 percent lower than the 183,653 job cuts planned in the first four months of 2012.

“The economic slowdown that began late in the third quarter and is expected to turn into another summer slump has yet to result in increased or widespread downsizing. The biggest concern is that consumers, who had been holding up the economy for so many months, are starting to scale back their spending as wages continue to stagnate,” said the firm… (Read more.)

2) Will American Workers Lift the Economy in 2013? Non-farm business sector labor productivity increased at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2013, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Thursday. This compares against a 1.7 percent annualized rate of decline in the fourth quarter, and falls short of expectations for quarter-to-quarter growth of 1.3 percent. On the year, productivity increased 0.9 percent… (Read more.)

3) Weak Imports and Soft Demand Narrows U.S. Trade Gap: The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, reported that the U.S. trade deficit shrank 11 percent sequentially in March to $38.8 billion. Total exports were $184.3 billion, down 0.9 percent on the month, while total imports were $223.1 billion, down 2.8 percent. Economists were expecting the deficit to shrink marginally to $42.4 billion.

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March’s data suggests that both domestic demand for foreign goods and services and overseas demand for U.S. goods and services shrank. The improvement in the trade gap was driven by the non-petroleum goods deficit, which shrank 9.8 percent on the month to $34.8 billion. The petroleum deficit and the services surpluses both improved marginally… (Read more.)

Don’t Miss: Challenger Job Report: Widespread Downsizing Not on the Horizon Just Yet.