Saturday, February 6, 2010

Markets sell off on good news again

A week ago the market went down after GDP rose at a 5.7% pace in 2009-Q4 This past week markets shrugged off a drop in the rate of unemployment to 9.7% from 10%.

Why all the pessimism? Why ignore such good news?

The ISMs cooked up improved numbers this past week and showed improvements their respective employment components as well. The MFG report was especially strong. Challenger's announced corporate layoffs remained low for January.

There are lingering financial sector concerns since Greece got in fiscal trouble. Often when something like happens there is thematic selling across the spectrum that sorts itself out in subsequent weeks. It's like Hells's Angels saying, 'Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out'. OK we've killed them all, isn't it time for the sorting out?

The US jobs picture is much brighter now. We have gains in services jobs. We have gains in manufacturing jobs. Losses in the tiny construction sector - likely the result of harsh winter weather- swamped gains in the two main job sectors of the economy. This month is a good lesson about looking into the details of the report. The unemployment rate fell, average hourly earnings rose and the work week expanded. The economy improved in just about every major labor market respect.

It's time for some optimism to appear.

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