Five Things to Watch: Jobs Friday Edition

The government posts the monthly jobs number, Wal-Mart hosts unhappy shareholders and the President toasts his mutually happy divorce with Chrysler. Here's what we're watching...

Unemployment line
Getty Images
Unemployment line

It's All About Jobs: For most Americans, the unemployment rate is the economic indicator that matters. More specifically, whether they're employed is the only economic factor that matters. Following Wednesday's brutal ADP employment reading, analysts have lowered their estimates for Friday's labor report to an expected uptick of just 183,000 jobs, yielding a national unemployment rate of 8.9 percent.

Settling in a Soft Patch: ...and bulls better watch out if the jobs numbers underwhelm Friday. Wednesday's sell-off ushered in a tepid session Thursday, while traders positioned for the monthly unemployment data. Compounded with a string of disappointing economic numbers of late, further weakness Friday could raise the question of real significant double dip. Wherever the major indices settle come the closing bell, count on plenty of action along the way. Over the last year, equities point swings have been unusually volatile on Jobs Fridays, seven times greater than the average closing change for the day.

Wal-Mart Woes: As the world's largest retailer (except for Apple , if you want to be truthful about it) gathers for the typically celebratory occasion of its annual shareholders meeting, some real issues threaten to put a damper on the mood. Will we see genuine discontent? Among the questions at hand: what can be done to ignite the slumping stock? What impact have high gas prices and natural disaster had on the bottom line? Shareholder questions about the new executive compensation structure, merchandising misfires, and oversight of overseas suppliers probably play the role of Debbie Downer.

NFL Turf War: A federal appeals court agreed to fast track the NFL's request to put its labor lockout back in place until a new deal is finally worked out. On Friday, the two sides make their cases again in St. Louis, with the verdict critical to determining who has the upperhand as negotiations remain strained and the season slowly approaches.

Chrysler in the Clear: Victory lap time for President Obama, as he spends Friday at a Chrysler plant in Toledo, Ohio. The automaker paid back its government loans last week and Fiat is reportedly close to signing an agreement to buy Treasury's remaining 6 percent stake in Chrysler. President Obama is set to trumpet a saved auto industry and rehiring in the rust belt, while worst case taxpayer cost projections have been avoided along the way. For Chrysler, the final government ties are gone and a turnaround feels very real. It's a win-win...

...unless you're one of the auto workers whose job is never coming back. It's all about jobs.