Stock Market Today

Stock Market Today: Stocks Slip After Dismal Jobs Number

The U.S. added a much lower-than-expected 194,000 new jobs in September.

It was a choppy end to the week as the markets weighed mixed messages from the latest jobs report.

While the headline number was a major disappointment – 194,000 new jobs added versus expectations of 500,000 – there was more promising news elsewhere, including an upward revision in August's numbers, to 366,000 from 235,000.

Additionally, wages rose 4.6% on an annualized basis and the unemployment rate fell to 4.8%, signaling "that labor conditions are fairly tight given the current amount of job openings in the economy," says Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management. "Ultimately, today's report shouldn't sway the Fed from moving forward with tapering the bond program in the coming months."

Kiplinger Letter economist David Payne agrees. "The lackluster September report is not likely to slow the Federal Reserve's plans to begin cutting back on its purchases of government and mortgage-backed securities before the end of the year," he says.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average spent most of the day higher as energy giant Chevron (CVX, +2.2%) gained alongside oil prices (+1.3% to $79.35 per barrel), but slipped into the red at the close (-0.03% to 34,746). The S&P 500 Index fell 0.2% to 4,391, while the Nasdaq Composite gave back 0.5% to 14,579.

As a reminder, the stock market will be open on Monday, Oct. 11, despite it being Columbus Day (increasingly known as Indigenous Peoples' Day). However, the bond market, which is more closely tied to federal holidays, will be closed, reopening on Tuesday, Oct. 12.

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 shed 0.8% to finish at 2,233.
  • General Motors (GM, +3.8%) got a boost after Credit Suisse analyst Dan Levy reiterated his Outperform (Buy) rating on the auto stock in the wake of the company's annual investor day. "GM is trying to shatter the perception that they are a no-growth Auto 1.0 company facing powertrain risk, and instead show us the potential for growth, electric vehicle (EV) leadership and significant revenue outside core vehicle sales," he wrote in a note, calling both the company's earnings targets and the stock's potential upside "compelling."
  • Charter Communications (CHTR, -4.8%) and Comcast (CMCSA, -4.7%) were both pelted on Friday following a dour note from Wells Fargo's Steven Cahall. The analyst has taken a more bearish view of the broader cable industry amid growing competition and increased cord-cutting. Cahall slapped Charter with a rare double downgrade – from Overweight (Buy) to Underweight (Sell) – and lowered his price target to $665 per share (5.8% downside) from $848. He also maintained his Underweight on CMCSA shares but dropped his PT to $41 per share (25% downside) from $49. 
  • Gold futures eased back 0.1% to $1,757.40 an ounce.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) fell 3.9% to 18.77.
  • Bitcoin prices rose 1.3% to $54,677.20. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)
stock price chart 100821

YCharts

Here Comes Earnings Season

In store for next week: The start to third-quarter earnings season.

Results this time around likely won't be as explosive as they were in Q2, when S&P 500 companies reported earnings growth of 91% – the highest since Q4 2009, according to FactSet.

Nevertheless, 56 of the 500 S&P 500 companies have already issued positive earnings per share (EPS) guidance for the quarter, which is more than 43% higher than the five-year average, says John Butters, vice president and senior earnings analyst at FactSet.

At present, this is "the fourth-highest number of S&P 500 companies issuing positive EPS guidance for a quarter since FactSet began tracking this metric in 2006," he adds. "The current record is 67, which occurred in the previous quarter (Q2 2021)."

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) will kick off a busy stretch of earnings for both Dow Jones stocks and financial firms – the latter of which has been catching attention lately due to rising interest rates, higher inflation and expectations for imminent tapering by the Fed. Here, we've compiled a list of the most compelling plays in the space, according to Wall Street's analysts. Check them out.     

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