Stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) got a slight boost at the market’s open as unemployment figures dropped, but were the results enough to power the markets much higher than that?

  • U.S. unemployment declined to 9% in January and the economy added 36,000 jobs – way below forecasts. On the face of it, the drop looks positive, but much of it was a readjustment from December’s 9.4% level. The unemployment rate has fallen by eight-tenths of a percentage point in the past two months. That’s the steepest two-month drop in nearly 53 years. SPDR S&P Retail (NYSEArca: XRT), is up slightly in early trading.
  • Health-care insurer Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET) shares are up almost 12% this morning after reporting operating earnings of 63 cents a share for the latest quarter, marginally ahead of the 62 cents consensus forecast of analysts polled by FactSet Research. The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Healthcare Provider ETF (NYSEArca: IHF) rose more than 1% on Friday.
  • European stocks traded higher Friday after data showed an unexpected decline in the U.S. unemployment rate, with utilities and some financial stocks posting particularly strong gains. Brian Gallagher, strategist at Dolmen Stockbrokers, said rhetoric from U.S. and European central banks on Thursday has been supportive for Europe. The ProShares MSCI Europe ETF (NYSEArca: UPV) is flat in early trading.
  • Oil prices have jumped past $91 a barrel despite the drop in unemployment, largely because of persistent jitters about the situation in Egypt. United States Oil (NYSEArca: USO) is up slightly in early trading.
  • Market Vectors Egypt (NYSEArca: EGPT) is up nearly 1% this morning, even as the Egyptian stock market remains closed and the protests on the streets of Cairo intensify. This morning, the clashes have been mostly peaceful.
  • Market jitters about the unemployment figures are pushing gold prices slightly higher this morning, but it hasn’t sparked a ton of safe-haven demand. SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD) is mostly flat so far today.

Gregory A. Clay contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.