S&P futures drifted lower this morning as February nonfarm payrolls, at 192,000 jobs created, was about inline with expectations. January payrolls were revised up to 63,000, from 36,000. However, private sector job gains were stronger than expected at 222,000. Average hourly earnings were flat, a gain of 0.2 percent was expected.
So private payrolls are up, government payrolls are down, and no real hiring pressure.
Unfortunately, in-line numbers are not going to impress traders. A good part of yesterday's gains seemed to have been based on the belief that nonfarm payrolls would come in above expectations. While not a bad report, it does have a "sell on the news" air about it.
The dollar, which has been on a slow descent all year, again dropped slightly against the euro.
What's next? We will likely put the focus back on the Middle East and oil.
1) Goldman Sachs (GS) and Citigroup (C) fall 1 percent after being downgraded to neutral at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The analyst cautions on weak results in their upcoming earnings reports. While results "are unlikely to be dismal," earnings are unlikely to see "improvement as strong as often seen in the past." It notes that although credit "continues to improve," the pickup in Q1 trading is "uninspiring."
2) Genesco (GCO) beats estimates ($1.33 vs. $1.29 consensus) on strong sales at its footwear chains Johnston & Murphy and The Journeys Group, where comps rose 12 percent in the quarter. The current fiscal year is also off to a good start with February comps rising 10 percent. Guidance for the current year of $2.78-$2.85 is inline with estimates of $2.81.
3) Walmart (WMT) rises 1 percent after boosting its annual dividend 21 percent to $1.46. The discounter has increased its dividend every year since issuing its first dividend in 1974.
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