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Why Jobs Report Released When Markets Closed on Good Friday

Tuesday, 3 Apr 2012 | 11:43 AM ET

The stock market will be closed this Friday in observance of Good Friday, but the government is still scheduled to release its March jobs report at the end of the week.

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“It’s highly irregular, but the relationship between the government and the stock market has always been a little bit strange,” explained Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services, on CNBC.

The non-farm payrolls report, typically announced on the first Friday of each month, is a widely-followed indicator of the U.S. economy. As such, an unexpected result can create big market swings.

Non-farm payrolls are expected to show a gain of above 200,000 in March, the fourth-straight month the economy has added more than 200,000 jobs, after an increase of 227,000 in the previous month.

“There is some suspicion that the number [this Friday] may be a bit more surprising than people think,” Cashin added.

Meanwhile, the bond market is scheduled to close early, at noon ET, on Friday.

In addition, Cashin explained in his daily market commentary why stock markets close for Good Friday, debunking a popular myth associated with a black Friday crash.

In the nearly five decades that I’ve been in Wall Street, each Easter season sees the re-blooming of an old—and erroneous—myth.

That myth contends that the NYSE opened on a Good Friday and the terrible Black Friday crash occurred. Thus, chastened and shaken, the Governors vowed never to open on a Good Friday again. It never happened.

Thanks to the nice folks in the NYSE archives we were able to establish a few facts. Records clearly show the NYSE closed on Good Friday as far back as 1864. Before 1864 records on the subject are a bit harder to find but there is high likelihood that the Exchange closed on Good Friday all the way back to 1793. (It was founded on May 17th, 1792 so Good Friday would have already passed that year.)

There was a famous and terrible Black Friday crash in Wall Street but it was primarily in the gold market. It came about when the “corner” on gold that Jay Gould and Jim Fisk had constructed (with some help from President Grant’s brother-in-law), collapsed. That occurred on September 24th, 1869, a little late in the year for Good Friday. You will also note from the search of the records that the NYSE was closing on Good Friday at least five years earlier and probably, much, much longer.

Lastly, for some unexplained reason, the NYSE stayed open on three Good Fridays. On April 8, 1898, the Dow closed down a half point. That’s hardly a crash. On the other two, April 13th, 1906 (a Friday the 13th) and March 29th, 1907, the Dow actually rose.

I hope that puts the myth to bed.

Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC

Questions? Comments? Email us at marketinsider@cnbc.com

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  • Patti Domm

    Patti Domm is CNBC Executive Editor, News, responsible for news coverage of the markets and economy.

  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

  • Sharon Epperson is CNBC's senior commodities and personal finance correspondent.

  • JeeYeon Park is a writer for CNBC.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC

  • Rick Santelli joined CNBC Business News as an on-air editor in 1999, reporting live from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade.

  • Senior Producer at CNBC's Breaking News Desk.

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