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Halftime Report: Trading Ahead Of Friday's Jobs Report

Thursday, 3 Sep 2009 | 1:10 PM ET

The S&P 500 edged higher on Thursday with investors apparently unwilling to be short going into the 3-day Labor Day weekend.

Retail provided some tailwind for the gains. Even though same-store sales fell overall, Costco , Targetand other low-price stores did show stronger than expected results and that helped drive market gains.

Meanwhile, investors also grappled with economic data that showed higher-than-expected jobless claims and weakness in the U.S. non-manufacturing sector.

With the critical jobs report due Friday morning, how should you be positioned?

Fast Money Halftime Report
The Fast Money traders weigh in on the markets and share their midday trading advice.

Instant Insights with the Fast Money traders

I think we’re going to see a pause going into Friday’s jobs numbers, muses Jon Najarian. And don’t kid yourself, the big moves in the markets on Friday will come in the first 90 minutes.

If the jobs number doesn’t surprise to the upside I think the market trades lower, speculates Jim Iuiro of TJM. And I think in the framework of a larger bull market we are still in the midst of a correction that takes the S&P down to 975 or even 950.

I also expect to see the S&P trade down to the 950 area, muses Greg Troccoli of Opalesque.

I thought the retail numbers were very good, adds Eugene Profit of Profit Investment Management and if this wasn’t September the market might be higher.

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FINANCIALS LEAD MARKET HIGHER

The financials were among the best performers of the day as JP Morgan and Bank of America lead the sector higher.

What’s the trade?

I think the financials are way ahead of themselves, muses Greg Troccoli. And patterns in the charts suggest to me that they could get hammered by any little bit of bearish news.

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RETAILERS POST BETTER THAN EXPECTED RESULTS

As we mentioned above, investors turned mildly optimistic on retail after same-store sales results came in mostly better than expected.

Budget oriented retailers such as Target and TJ Max performed best as consumers looked to save money in the key back-to-school season, however luxury chains continued to struggle.

"It's really still a discounter's market and an off-price seller's market," says Ken Perkins, president of research firm Retail Metrics.

On average, same-store sales fell 2.9 percent at the 30 retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters, better than the 3.8 percent decline analysts had forecast.

What’s the trade?

I’ve turned more positive on retailers after these numbers, says Eugene Profit, but I’m only positive on retailers that provide consumers with value. Personally, I like Gap and Costco .

The numbers show me that consumer are continuing to spend, adds Jon Najarian.

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GREAT BIG GOLD BREAKOUT - METAL EYEING $1,000

The price of gold rose to a fresh three-month high Thursday as economic uncertainty prompted investors to seek the safe-haven asset.

What’s the trade?

I think we’re seeing a diversification of wealth coming out of Asia, speculates Jim Iurio. It seems sovereign wealth funds are moving into something other than the US dollar.

Technically gold has been stuck in a range for a while, adds Greg Troccoli. Thursday's move higher suggests gold is breaking out and tests $1017.

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TRADING THE GLOBE: CHINA STOCKS RISE THE MOST IN SIX MONTHS

Shares in China soared on Thursday after a top regulator assured investors that the country's market was healthy.

And on a related note, aluminum producer Alcoa made bullish comments about China-based demand. "China is back," Alcoa CEO Klaus Kleinfeld said, adding that the country, the world's biggest aluminum consumer and producer, "had a lot of shovel-ready projects" for 2011, now being started by the government in response to the global economic slowdown

What’s the trade?

It says to me that Alcoa or Rio Tinto will see a small boost, speculates Tim Seymour. But I don’t see it going a lot further than that.

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TRADE TO GO --CUBIST PHARMA

There’s been a great deal of take-over talk surrounding Cubist Pharma, reveals Jon Najarian. That combined with unusual activity suggests to me the stock could move higher.

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CALL THE CLOSE

Jon Najarian: I’m a buyer because I think we get a little surprise on Friday

Jim Iuorio: I’m a bull into the close.

Greg Troccoli: I’m a seller and I think we have a lower market on Friday.

Eugene Profit: I like the retail numbers and I’m a buyer.


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Trader disclosure: On Sept. 3rd, 2009, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Adami Owns (AGU), (BTU), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT), (NUE); Najarian Owns (BAC) And Is Short (BAC) Calls; Najarian Owns (C) Calls; Najarian Owns (CBST) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (GS) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (JPM) And Is Short (JPM) Calls; Najarian Owns (MS) And Is Short (MS) Calls; Najarian Owns (MSFT) And Is Short (MSFT) Calls; Najarian Owns (PALM) Calls; Najarian Owns (PDE) Calls; Najarian Owns (SEPR) Time Spread; Najarian Owns (YHOO) Calls; Terranova Owns (FCX), (AMZN), (POT), (SU), (WFT)
Terranova Owns December Gold Futures
Terranova Is Short (TM)

For Joe Terranova
Terranova Works For (VRTS)
Terranova Is Chief Market Strategist Of Virtus Investment Partners, Ltd.
Terranova Is Co-Portfolio Manager Of The Virtus Diversifier PHOLIO
Virtus Diversifier PHOLIO Owns (IGE)
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