Stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) were socked by a gloomy joblessness report. Not even positive earnings news from some big names seem to be able to lift them out of the doldrums this morning.
Evidence of a distressed economy lingers, underscored by a weak jobs report. The Labor Department said weekly jobless claims fell by less than expected last week. The Commerce Department reported durable goods orders didn’t rise as fast as anticipated last month, as orders for big-ticket manufactured goods are low, reports Stephen Bernard for Associated Press.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 150 points following disappointing reports.
During his State of the Union address Wednesday night, President Barack Obama avoided talking about the banking overhaul plan. Last night’s speech was described as an effort to “reset” or “restart” the agenda after a year the President admitted hasn’t always gone smoothly.
The biggest shift Obama made last night, policy wise, was his declaration “that jobs must be our number one focus in 2010,” and plans for a “new jobs bill” would go into production, reports Aaron Task for Tech Ticker. Obama also urged Congress not to give up on health care reform.
Earnings reports were mixed:
- Proctor & Gamble (NYSE: PG) saw broad sales growth in their most recent quarters, signaling at least some pickup in consumer spending. For P&G, in particular, the improved sales were seen as increased evidence of a turnaround in its business since sales of its higher priced goods tumbled, reports CNN Money. Vanguard Health Care (NYSEArca: VHT) is down nearly 1% this morning; JNJ is 11.3%.
- Ford Motor Corp. (NYSE: F) posted a profit of $2.7 billion for the year, a dramatic turnaround for the company. They sustained and weathered one of the most dire years for the auto industry and remain in strong health. The company grabbed 15.3% of the U.S. auto market as sales of Ford brands in the fourth quarter rose 13% from the same period a year earlier, reports Jerry Hirsche for The Los Angeles Times.
- AT&T (NYSE: T) earnings were also largely aided by sharp cost-cutting. The company posted a 25.6 % increase in fourth-quarter earnings as its wireless and new T.V. businesses continue to grow. In the quarter that ended December 31, AT&T said Thursday, it earned $3.09 billion, or 51 cents a share, reports Marguerite Reardon for CNET News. All eyes will be on the wireless company to watch how it handles the latest iPad Tablet launch this week. iShares Dow Jones U.S. Telecom (NYSEArca: IYZ): AT&T is 17.3%
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