Remember that slow and steady economic recovery we were having? It may have become even slower during March, because the jobs report released this morning was less than inspiring, and the markets are rethinking their recent bullishness. The economy added just 88,000 jobs, according to the Department of Labor. That's the worst result since June, although unemployment did fall to 7.6% as people left the workforce. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) has greeted the news by slumping 0.65% near the end of trading, while the broader S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) dropped 0.79%.
Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) is one of the biggest losers on the Dow, falling 2.5% today. Competitor F5 Networks said its revenue and earnings would fall well short of guidance the company set back in January. This could mean some market-share gains for Cisco, but F5 CEO John McAdam said, "We believe the slowdown in orders is not caused by competitive losses," so investors are seeing it as a red flag for the industry as a whole. Cisco won't release fiscal third-quarter earnings until May 15, so it's a long wait to see whether Cisco is feeling the same pressure as F5.
ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) is down 1.2% on a variety of news items. The price of crude oil is down 0.4% today to less than $93 per barrel. The U.S. Department of Energy said crude inventories hit their highest level since 1990, an indication of downward pressure on prices. On the positive side, Exxon's deal to buy an 80% interest in Liberia's Block 13 from Canadian Overseas Petroleum got final approval from the Liberian legislature and president. Africa is a growing source of reserves, and this will be an incremental positive for ExxonMobil.
One of the few stocks bucking the downtrend is Boeing (NYSE:BA), which has risen 1.3% today. This morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the company had a "good plan" to fix a battery problem that have left the 787 Dreamliner grounded. Boeing is planning to run test flights today, so a return to the skies for the entire fleet could come shortly. That's news investors have been waiting a long time for.