Trader Talk

Job growth close enough for government work—and traders

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Judging by the employment report (and a few other data releases) the economy appears to be getting better. Nonfarm payrolls, which rose 192,000 for March, was close enough to Wall Street's 200,000 estimate. But the revisions are important, especially the private payroll revision of 188,000 from 162,000 in February. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate moved up as well.

The bottom line: the labor market is not as bad as we thought.

GrubHub prices IPO at $26/share
GrubHub prices IPO at $26/share

With that said, many traders noted that yesterday was the ugliest intraday all time high you are ever likely to see. I mean, 2-1 declining to advancing stocks? That is nasty. The market's key biotech benchmark down 2.7 percent. Meanwhile, hedge funds, by all reports, got mauled in March.

Friday's trading will be a big test. We should hold the opening bell's gains, particularly on the nonfarm report. If we don't, we could be headed for another one of those 3 to 5 percent corrections that happened at least 4 times last year.

Remember, this is a fairly heavily leveraged market: margin debt rose to a record high in March. The issue is, once earnings season starts will the high beta (riskier) names come back into play?


1) The initial public offering (IPO) parade continues; in all, four priced, with 3 on the NYSE and another on the Nasdaq:

a) Online food delivery service GrubHub (GRUB) priced 7.4 million shares—more than expected - at $26, above the $23 to $25 range.

b) IMS Health, a healthcare data and consulting services provider, priced 65 million shares at $20, in the middle of the $18 to $21 range.

c) Opower, which provides cloud based software to the utility industry, priced 6.1 million shares at $19, at the high end of the $17 to $19 range.

On the Nasdaq's market, we had Five9 (FIVN), which offers on-demand software that enables cloud-based call centers, priced 10 million shares at $7, below the $9 to $11 price talk.

The IPO market remains strong. However, because "momentum" names were weak in March, and many of the recent IPOs have been classic momentum names in the "cloud computing" and "big data" space, Renaissance Capital IPO's basket of 200 recent IPOs, came off its highs. The IPO started trading in October and moved nearly 20 percent into February before falling back.

2) Earnings: came in with a terrific report. Earnings beat by a wide margin (85 cent profit versus a 76 cent consensus). Sales are up $2 billion year over year, to $4.1 billion. What's the story? Dynamic random access memory (RAM) pricing has improved, and supply seems stable.

3) In Europe, German factory orders rose in February as growth accelerated. In Asia, stocks were mixed.

4) Thanks to the Market Technicians Association for a wonderful evening last night. I emcee'd the Lifetime Achievement Awards, and received a Recognition Award for "steadfast efforts to integrate technical analysis into financial decision making, journalism and reporting." Thanks to my old friend Ralph Acampora for the invite; we had a wonderful evening reminiscing about colorful technicians like Marty Zweig and Joe Granville.

--By CNBC's Bob Pisani