1. ADP reports jobs surge in December
The number of the day is 238,000. That's how many jobs the payroll-tracking firm ADP estimates that the U.S. added in December -- that's waaaay more than the 200,000 Wall Street expected. And after the hefty 215,000 new U.S. jobs in November, it's at least another good sign for the improving jobs market.
Everyone likes some juicy details, which is why Wall Street has been eagerly anticipating the minutes from the Federal Reserve's big, end-of-the-year, policy-setting meeting last month. And after those minutes were released Wednesday, stocks took a tumble.
J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) needs a muzzle, because Wednesday's vague press release sent shareholders running. The once great department store that's fallen from $87 a share in 2007 to $7.37 a share now, fell 10% after a short press release claimed it had strong holiday sales, but provided no details.
The unsolicited "comment" was only six lines long. It had like 15 positive adjectives about the company's holiday sales results, but no numbers. Similar press releases bragging about positive results have all included numbers to back up their claims. Investors immediately recognized the hollow words and feared the worst.
After its failed Apple experiment of hiring an iExecutive to lead the retailer (before firing him the following year), J.C. Penney is struggling to hang on. Strong holiday sales could be the company's last hope.
- Alcoa kicks off the fourth-quarter 2013 earnings season
- Weekly jobless claims
Fool contributors Jack Kramer and Nick Martell have no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.