The stock markets in the United States fluctuated and eventually ended the trading session on Thursday as investors wait for the employment data tomorrow. Investors are also concerned that the Federal Reserve will speed up the reduction of its monthly bond-buying program. Policy makers previously announced a $10 billion reduction to the quantitative easing to $75 billion a month.

market news Morning News

Yesterday, the ADP Research Institute reported that American companies added 238,000 jobs last month. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg estimated that the economy added 196,000 jobs in December, which would bring the total jobs created to 2.27 million last year, the highest since 2007.

In a telephone interview with Bloomberg, Walter Todd, chief investment officer at Greenwood Capital Associates commented, “You could be seeing some anticipation that the jobs number tomorrow could be really high. That could change the timetable for the Fed’s ultimate exit from quantitative easing.”

Today, data showed that the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits for the week that ended January 4 declined to 330,000.

The minutes of the meeting of the Federal Reserve released yesterday, did not indicate a specific schedule regarding the pace of the tapering of asset purchases, but some policy makers emphasized the need for a “more deterministic path.”

Romain Boscher at Amundi Asset Management in Paris said, “We are at a tipping point — if not a turning point — where markets will start to be driven by earnings per share and not price-to-earnings ratios.” The corporate earnings season starts today with Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA) reporting its quarterly earnings results.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)- 16,466.17 (-0.10%)
  • S&P 500- 1,838.17 (+0.04%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,156.19 (-0.23%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,156.59 (-0.08%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,090.26 (-0.66%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,691.34 (-0.45%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 9,421.61 (-0.80%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 15,880.33 (-1.50%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 22,787.33 (-0.91%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2,222.22 (-0.88%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA) declined by more than 1% to $10.70 per share. The company revealed today that its subsidiary, Alcoa World Alumina LLC, plead guilty to foreign bribery charges filed against it and agreed to pay a $384 million penalty including $223 million to the DOJ and $161 million to the SEC to settle the case. The aluminum giant reported a $2.3 billion net loss or $2.19 per share in the fourth quarter. Excluding special items, its net income was $40 million or $0.04 per share.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ:BBBY) declined more than 12% to $69.75 per share after the retailer issued weak guidance for the fourth quarter and full year 2013. The company lowered its EPS guidance next quarter in the range of $1.60 to $1.67 from its previous estimate of around $1.70 to $1.77 per share. For the full year 2013, Bed Bath & Beyond is expected to generate earnings in the range of $4.79 to $4.86 per share compared with its previous estimate around $4.88 to $5.01 per share.

On the other hand, the shares of Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT) soared more than 280% to $275.49 per share after the company reported the clinical trial for its liver disease drug, obeticholic acid, was stopped by the data monitoring board earlier because of evidence that the treatment is effective.