U.S. stock markets dropped today, primarily driven by the decline in the prices of equities in the consumer and technology industry. The Department of Labor is scheduled to release its monthly jobs report tomorrow.

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Today, data from the Labor Department showed that the number of people who filed applications for unemployment benefits increased by 16,000 to 326,000 for the week ending March 29. The figure is higher than the four-week moving average of 319,500.

Yesterday, the ADP Research Institute reported American companies in the private sector added 191,000 jobs in March, which is a slightly above the 12 month average. The figure is a signal that the labor market is recovering from the negative impact of the severe winter weather and looking for more growth as the weather becomes warmer.

In a telephone interview with Bloomberg, Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners LLC commented, “The market still wants to be positive and has this feeling of goodwill, but at times it runs into a little bit of resistance. Nobody wants to buy at an all-time high, and that’s where we are. People are a little bit more cautious. As we get closer to the payroll report, we’ll be in wait and see mode.”

On the other hand, Kai Fachinger, a money manager at RobecoSAM AG in Zurich opined that any negative report is largely ignored at this time or considering it in the very short term. He said, “This shows the clear optimism of investors, and the market could rise even more, especially if tomorrow’s employment report comes in with good numbers.”

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)- 16,571.01 (-0.01%)
  • S&P 500- 1,888.67(-0.12 %)
  • NASDAQ- 4,237.74 (-0.91%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,182.35 (-0.88%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,206.76 (+0.61%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,649.14 (-0.15%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 9,628.82 (+0.06%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 15,071.88 (+0.84%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 22,565.08 (+0.18%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2,165.01 (-0.72%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:APC) increased more than 14% to $98.88 per share after the company agreed to pay a $5.15 billion penalty to settle the environmental complaint of the United States government in connection with the pollution caused by its unit, Kerr-McGee Corp. The Department of Justice initially demanded $25 billion to clean up the pollution left behind by Kerr-McGee for 85 years. According to the agency, the settlement was the largest environmental recovery in their history.

The shares of Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) plummeted 13.52% to $19.12 per share after Liberty Media Corp (NASDAQ:LMCA) agreed to significantly reduced its stake in the bookseller. As a result of the ownership reduction, the media company lost its authority to name two representatives to the board of the bookseller, which gains more flexibility in pursuing alternative strategies.

Search engine giant Google’s previously announced stock split starts today. The Class C shares (no voting right) are trading under the “GOOG” symbol and the Class A shares (one voting right) trading under the symbol “GOOGL.”  The stock price of the Class C shares of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) rose 0.48% to $569.75 per share while the Class A shares of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) also climbed 0.60% to $571.50 per share.