Even Traders Are Confused About the Jobs Report

Out of Work
Out of Work

moved in an 11-point range in about 3 minutes on confusion over the April nonfarm payrolls report (115,000 vs. 168,000 consensus). The March revision — to 154,000 from 120,000 helped assuage the miss ... but is the trend improving or deteriorating?

Seems to me it's not weak enough for a third round of quantitative easing , but the underlying trend is weaker than we saw from December through February.

And the 8.1 percent unemployment rate , down from 8.2 percent? This was Art Cashin's, the director of floor operations for UBS Financial Services, worst-case scenario — a low jobs creation report with a lower unemployment number.

By the way, the decline was due largely to a decline in the labor force participation rate, at 63.6 percent the lowest level since December 1981.


1) IPO SUCCESS! No, not Facebook. And not cloud computing . Please. I'm talking about uber-hip retailer Tilly's, which sold 8 million shares at $15.50, well above the price talk of $11.50 to $13.50 a share.

It's the latest IPO success of much-liked brand names, following on the success of organic food seller Annie's, which priced five weeks ago at $19 (well above the price talk), closed at $35.92 on the first day of trading (now $38.90) to Tumi Holdings, which priced at $18 and closed at $26.50 on the first day of trading (now $24.40).

2) So it looks like François Hollande will be the victor in this Sunday's French presidential elections. What will he do? I doubt he will scream at the European Central Bank and insist it stop printing euros.

You would think he would. After all, the "Sarkozy Trade," as it has become known, involved convincing the ECB to offer dirt-cheap, 1 percent loans to European banks, who would then —presumably — turn around and buy sovereign debt with yields of, say, five to six percent. Presto. Banks sop up sovereign debt, and make a tidy profit on the carry trade.

How did printing euros come to be the official stance of the center-right government of France? That's not the point — the point is that if printing euros is the policy of the center-right government, what do you think the policy of a center-left government will be?

The markets dropped yesterday on word that French centrist candidate François Bayrou would vote for Hollande ... why the drop? Because investors believe that these center-left government will not have the will to enact the structural reforms that are needed to really tackle the problems. There will be talk of infrastructure projects and the European Investment Bank and financial transaction taxes and even eurobonds, but allowing freer movement of labor, and ending the ridiculous straightjacket that prevents companies from freely hiring and firing workers? Don't bet on it.

3) World indices this week: a mixed picture, with Brazil and China outperforming.

This Week

S&P 500 -0.8%
Germany -2.1%
Spain -2.3%
Brazil +0.7%
China +2.1%

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