Stocks slide on weak economic data

Private-sector hiring and weekly jobless claims disappoint investors. European markets finish lower as turmoil persists. Costco and Gap miss same-store sales forecasts.

By TheStreet Staff May 31, 2012 7:18AM


Updated at 12:06 p.m. ET

By Shanthi Bharatwaj

Stocks were off their lows but remained in the red Thursday after reports showed a disappointing pace of job creation and slower economic growth than initially thought.


Demand for haven assets continued to surge amid heightened eurozone uncertainty, with the yield on 10-year Treasurys still hitting record lows.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) was down by 51 points at 12,368. Earlier in the session, the index fell to as low as 12,316. The S&P 500 ($INX) was lower by 8 points at 1304. The Nasdaq ($COMPX) was dropping 25 points at 2,812.

Twenty-three out of the 30 Dow components were trading in the red, with Caterpillar (CAT), Exxon Mobil (XOM)  and Bank of America (BAC) leading the index lower.

Shares in capital goods, energy and materials were the worst performers.

Heading into this final session of the month, May was set up for a particularly ugly finish. The S&P 500 is on pace for its worst monthly slump since September. The index has declined 6.1% this month through Wednesday.

The Dow, down 6% so far, has had only five positive trading sessions over the month, its worst performance since May 2010, when concerns about Greece first emerged. The Nasdaq has lost nearly 7%. 

Worries about the fate of the euro and the impact of a global slowdown has led investors to abandon equities and seek safe havens such as U.S. treasury bonds.

"A lot of people really don't trust this market. Maybe they say the market is rigged or it's insider's game, so you just see a lot of people taking their money out of U.S. equities and putting them into bonds and looking for capital preservation instead of the risk-on trade," Joe Bell, senior equity analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research, said.

"The stunning thing to me about . . . the way the market is behaving now is, when you look at 30-year Treasurys, they're behaving as if a Lehman-like event has already happened," said Michael Gayed, a chief investment strategist at Pension Partners LLC.


Investors betting on U.S. economy withstanding global pressures were in for some disappointment Thursday as a raft of economic data pointed to slowing growth.


ADP's employment report showed companies created 133,000 jobs in May, underwhelming expectations. Economists had expected the private sector to have added 148,000 jobs in May, according to Thomson Reuters. In April, companies created 119,000 jobs


Earlier Thursday, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas said employers announced plans to lay off 61,887 workers in May, an eight-month high and up 67% from a year earlier.


The Labor Department said initial jobless claims for the week ending May 26 jumped by 10,000 to 383,000, higher than the 370,000 economists were expecting.


The reports come ahead of Friday's all-important jobs report. The Labor Department is expected to say that the economy created 150,000 jobs in May, up from 115,000 in April, according to economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Another month of bad news on jobs could further dampen investor sentiment and revive expectations that the Federal Reserve will do more to boost the economy.


The Bureau of Economic Analysis at the Department of Commerce said the economy expanded at a rate of 1.9% during the first quarter, down from the advance estimate of 2.2%. That was in line with expectations.


The Institute for Supply Management said business activity in the Chicago region significantly slowed, with the purchasing managers' index coming in at 52.7, down from 56.2 in April.


The consensus expected Chicago PMI to come in at 57 for May. A reading over 50 indicates expansion.

July oil futures were lower by $1.26 at $86.56 a barrel, and August gold futures were lower by $1.6 at $1,564.10 an ounce in volatile trading.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was rising by 22/32, lowering the yield to another record low of 1.549%, and the greenback was up by 0.1%, according to the dollar index.


The euro was trading flat against the dollar at $1.235 near its two-year low.


European markets finished in the negative Thursday, reversing an early bounce, as markets were unable to shake off concerns about the region's debt crisis.


The FTSE in U.K. finished flat, while the DAX in Germany lost 0.6%.

Stocks in the region had shown signs of stabilizing earlier in the session amid a clutch of better-than-expected economic data. Inflation in the 17-nation area fell to 2.4% from 2.6%, the slowest pace since February 2011, while the German unemployment rate fell to 6.7% in April.


Asian markets sold off, tracking the risk-off trade in European and U.S. markets on Wednesday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.3%, while Japan’s Nikkei declined 1%.


In corporate news, shares of Talbots (TLB) jumped more than 90% after it agreed to be taken private by Sycamore Partners at $2.75 per share.

The nation's retailers, reported mostly better-than-expected same-store sales numbers, though some big names disappointed.

Gap (GPS) said comparable-store sales rose 2% in May, less than the 3.1% jump analysts were predicting. Shares were down 1.8%.

Target (TGT) reported a 4.4% growth in same-store sales in May, beating analyst estimates. Shares were rising 0.5%.


Costco (COST) said same-store sales rose 4%, short of the 4.3% analysts were expecting. Shares were edging higher by 0.7%.


TiVo (TIVO) reported weak first-quarter results and second-quarter guidance. The digital video recording company posted a loss of 17 cents a share on revenue of $67.8 million. Analysts were expecting a loss of 15 cents a share on $54.89 million in service and technology revenue.


For its fiscal second quarter, TiVo said it expects service and technology revenue to be between $53 million and $55 million and projects a net loss of $28 million to $30 million. Analysts expect revenue of $56.5 million and a loss of $27 million.

Shares were declining 6.1%.


Ciena (CIEN) shares were surging 7.5%  after the network equipment maker reported an adjusted profit of 4 cents per share, beating expectations of a loss of 3 cents per share.

More from

May 31, 2012 11:21AM
S&P down to 1300 - that's 155 points below where we were when this century started...
May 31, 2012 11:19AM

What a bunch of B.S. I can set my watch for many, many months on end now to the headline changes, and know exactly what they will say from one day to the next and how the market will respond to it. FIRE ALL THE GREEDY BASTARDS IN NOVEMBER AND START FRESH. A LITTLE COMMON SENSE WILL GO A LONG WAY COMPARED TO THE INCOMPETENT GREEDY BOTTOM FEEDERS DESTROYING THIS COUNTRY NOW!!! THE ONLY LOOSERS ARE THE FEW WORKING CLASS TAX PAYERS LEFT WITH THIS GREEDY GROUP CORRUPT IDIOTS.

May 31, 2012 11:17AM
"If they want to be freeloaders and not give back then hang them high."

Pure Genius!
Which "freeloaders" are you talking about?
the 48% of freeloaders who pay ZERO fed taxes?
the welfare crowd , (I put you among them - you must be SO proud!)
the food stamps crowd?
the illegal's who pay zero taxes?

The above freeloaders are ALL the Dem base , so please do tell the definition of freeloading because now I'm confused?

May 31, 2012 11:17AM
The best thing about seeing President Obama win in 2012, is getting to hear many redneck drug addicted Repukelicans WHINE for the next 4 years, while the rest of the Retardlican toothless hillbillies simply give up and blow their useless demented brains out. I LOVE IT! LMAO
May 31, 2012 11:13AM
 If Bernanke went  Blackface, he WOULD be Uncle Ben. Same white beard and bald head. He should try it sometime at a Congressional hearing just to lighten things up a bit-- and maybe have a bowl of oatmeal for a break snack
May 31, 2012 11:12AM
Anytime you make a purchase, money is going to China or the Middle East.  That's power baby!!!  China is building a Naval Fleet to rule the seas.  USA is cutting theirs.   lol
May 31, 2012 11:11AM
That's all they have is the off shore accounts !
It's the same talking points over and over.

HELLO moron, the average American only cares about THEIR bank account.
Right now under dear leader it's going, going , gone !!!

Let's see the choices
Evil capitalists, had an offshore acct !!!!


4 more years of failure
Everything got worse since he was elected. I'm unemployed 3 years -hmm

A tough one!
It's going to be an epic a$ whipping!

May 31, 2012 11:11AM
This is just the beginning!  Hold on to your hats!  Cowboy up!  Be safer riding in PBR than 'riding' this manipulated nonsense. That 'bear' just ate the bull....!
May 31, 2012 11:10AM
Everything you are touching today is Made in China, Everything!!  We own you!!
May 31, 2012 11:10AM
"MG your post just might make some sense except for the fact Messiah Romney had it in those accounts well before President Obama. "

The banks were failing before Obama, and for that matter, before Bush II, by nobody's fault but their own. I lost a bundle when a bank went bust, and didn't get bailed out.
May 31, 2012 11:07AM
USA you are in the rear view mirror now.  China has your companies and manufacturing jobs.  China is in the driver's seat and you fools are about to be thrown to the curb.  It's not getting better from here.  The past 20 years was a phony economy created by your politicians to create the illusion that things were okay.  Now that's not an option anymore as the debt is a big problem now.  Get use to forced austerity measures.  Take your medicine like Greece.
May 31, 2012 11:07AM

So the great Repub job fix is to bring back some china jobs and look like hero's? Who exported jobs in the first place? Too late!

I just love this movie line and it's so fitting... 1 percenters "the time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end..."

Greed has raped the middle class and now an anger swells with violence on the horizon. Your gold won't even buy your snobby kid a loaf of bread, reap it.

May 31, 2012 11:06AM

Even though the economy is not the only issue in the election, by far, it's the most important one. Now base Obama's performance vs. Romney's (in the private sector) Romney clearly comes out on top-Not perfect- (if he, or anyone else was, they would be our savior longbeach)


Now look at his foreign policy: A disaster; alienated half of economies in So. America, talking on a open mic with the Russians about defensive shields. But he got Osama (personally- I would have put him in chains & paraded him like a DOG around the world-then publicly shoot  him.)


I leave it at that for now-but I've got more!


May 31, 2012 11:04AM
And to make things worse we wont be able to buy a big soda and enjoy it because of this penis head Bloomberg...So sad.
May 31, 2012 11:04AM
QE3 should provide at least a temporary boost to stocks when uncle Ben makes a speech about it around the 4th of July. Or maybe he'll hold of until Jackson Hole in August. Ben should sign up for a climb  to the summit of the Grand Teton  with the Exum Guides to inspire us. Or even better, do it solo! Just to get away from the office and Press for a few days. Unless Anderson Cooper is a rock climber
May 31, 2012 11:02AM
I finally figured out what DOW stands for, "Down on Worries"
May 31, 2012 11:02AM
The Big Banks are doing just fine with Billions upon Billions in revenues and the assistance from the Fed to print more money if they need more and the administration to protect them from the 99% with regulations.  The banks are swallowing up properties in droves owned by minorities, that's right, blacks and latinos are gettin screwed.  The got coned by the biggest con man of all.  If you lost your job, they take your house and all the equity in it then turn around and sell it for to the 1% for a profit then rent to you.   What a great deal for the Banks and the 1%.  It's a for them and a loose..loose for the working guy. 
May 31, 2012 10:55AM
Well, manipulators once again in complete control....At 1045 hrs they called to accelerate the selling so we should be down triple digits anytime now and unfortunately there is nothing we can do....These scumbags keep making tons of dough while most people out there are losing tons....Yes, the numbers were ugly this morning and tomorrow looks even scarier...The only ones laughing down here are these cheating fricking crooks...People, Obama needs to go, yesterday. More later.
May 31, 2012 10:54AM

"Several top retailers reported stronger-than-expected sales in May, as shoppers overcame growing anxiety about the U.S. economy and the job market."


The real reason sales may be up is due to retailers raising prices and not because they are selling more merchandise.  So if a retailer reports a 4-6% increase it may actually mean their comp store sales are down considering the average retailer has raised prices at least 10-12% since the previous year.

May 31, 2012 10:53AM
Suckerberg - I like that one.
Always remember that little shyster,  I mean, that gentleman, is a good one per center !

Obuma approves of little Zuckie.
I wonder if he contributed anything to his campaign funding?

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[BRIEFING.COM] The Nasdaq Composite (+0.5%) and S&P 500 (+0.2%) posted modest gains on Thursday, but not before enduring a morning dip into the red, which took place in reaction to reports indicating Russia has commenced military exercises on the Ukrainian border.

The news from Europe knocked the key indices from their early highs, while giving a boost to safe-haven assets like gold futures (+0.5% to $1290.80/ozt), Treasuries (10-yr yield -1 bps to 2.69%), and the Japanese yen (102.30 ... More


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