Today's Agenda in the Markets

Stocks are hesitant ahead of the jobs data, which will be a key driver of direction today. Asian markets were mostly higher while European markets are lower this morning.

Consensus among economists is for 100,000 new jobs for February, with an unemployment rate of 4.6%.

"All the anecdotes have been that the job market is hot. Many parts of the job market are tight, and there are CEOs complaining about skill shortages all around," says our Steve Liesman, who has been crunching the numbers and thinks the report could be stronger than the consensus.

A strong jobs number however, would contradict some recent signs that the economy is slowing.

"You do see this in some later stages as companies react in a bimodal way. They work to draw down product inventories, but they end up increasing employee inventories because they make up for some past deficits in the employee area," says Liesman.

More Mortgage Blues

A trend we've been watching got a touch worse late yesterday when New Century said it is unable to make new loans while it seeks additional funding from its lenders. We'll look into this some more today.

Around the World

President Bush's tour of Latin America triggered protests in Sao Paulo, Brazil yesterday. He meets with Brazil's president today and ethanol production will be on the agenda.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is on his own, rival road trip for the region's affections. He speaks at a leftist rally in Argentina later today and will no doubt be photographed with cheering crowds. Bush arrives in Uruguay later Friday.

China Reserves

China's finance minister today confirmed that the government plans to overhaul the way it manages the closely watched $1 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves. China mainly keeps its reserves in investments such as U.S. government bonds. It now plans to split the reserves in two and manage them differently.

Corporate News

AT&T and Yahoo are discussing scaling back their partnership. EADS, the parent of Airbus, reported a $526 million loss for 2006.