Markets are largely flat today, with global economic concerns taking precedence over positive economic data in the U.S. and stimulus efforts announced from a triad of overseas central banks. Below are a few of the key economic data points of the day.
- The June ADP labor report showed private sector payrolls rose 176,000, above expectations of only 100,000.
- Weekly jobless claims fell to their lowest level in six weeks.
- The Bank of England increased the size of its bond-buying program by $78 billion to $585 billion.
- The European Central Bank cut its benchmark rate by 0.25% to 0.75%.
- China cut its benchmark lending and deposit rates, and provided more flexibility for lenders to discount below those rates.
All of the stimulus moves are meant to spur economic growth by making access to money easier and cheaper for both businesses and consumers. However, they also communicate an underlying level of concern from policymakers over current economic conditions. In response, European and Asian markets were relatively mixed, with China's Shanghai Composite moving 1.2% move lower on heightened fears of a slowdown.
For U.S. markets, the positive labor reports are failing to remove concerns ahead of tomorrow's June jobs report. Here's a snapshot of where the major indexes stood as of 2 p.m. EDT.
|Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI )||8.1||0.06%||12,951|
|S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC )||(0.9)||(0.07%)||1,373|
Source: Yahoo! Finance
Moving to individual stocks, shares of Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) are surging today, up nearly 15% as of this writing following CEO Reed Hastings' Facebook post that over 1 billion hours of streaming television and movies were viewed by subscribers during June.
Many of the nation's largest retailers reported June same-store sales today, and anemic consumer income growth was evident, despite the industry's aggregate 2.5% growth (excluding drugstores) edging out expectations of 2.4%. Looking specifically at drugstores, Walgreen (NYSE: WAG ) saw sales fall 10% for the month versus expectations for a 7% drop. The company also announced it was acquiring 144 stores from Stephen L. LaFrance Holdings under various brand names in South and Midwest. Competitor Rite-Aid (NYSE: RAD ) saw sales decline 1% for the month, with pricing pressure from generic-drug introductions offsetting a 2.9% increase in prescriptions filled and a 0.3% improvement in front-end sales for the month.
Retailers in the U.S. are feeling the impact of anemic consumer income growth and a dismal labor situation. However, in our special free report, "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012," our analysts outline a foreign retailer that is shaking up the booming Latin American market. Claim your copy of this exclusive report today -- free of charge -- by clicking here.