ETFs are down after the government reported weekly jobless claims fell to a two-year low, with disappointing earnings from companies including Cisco Systems Inc. weighing on sentiment.
- Market Vectors Egypt (NYSEArca: EGPT) popped up nearly 3% in early trading after Egypt President Hosni Mubarak signaled that a governmental shift in power was in place and that he’d step down by day’s end. It’s thought that current Vice President Omar Suleiman would take over.
- The number of people applying for unemployment benefits plunged last week to the lowest level in nearly three years, continuing a downward trend that suggests hiring could pick up this year. Applications sank by a seasonally adjusted 36,000 to 383,000, the lowest point since early July 2008, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
- Cisco’s (NASDAQ: CSCO) shares declined over 12% in early trading after the network equipment maker spooked Wall Street with a third-quarter non-GAAP view of 35 cents to 38 cents. Even the upper end would miss the Street’s view of 30 cents. Cisco also said its full-year sales would come in at the lower end of its earlier range and posted a decline in margins. The PowerShares QQQ ETF (NASDAQ: QQQQ) is down on Thursday.
- Shares of Whole Foods Market Inc. (NYSE: WFMI) was another big mover in early trading, rallying about 11% after the grocer lifted its 2011 forecasts for profit and sales. Whole Foods’ report is a sharp contrast to traditional supermarket chains who have struggled to keep shoppers as the economy recovers at a slow pace. First Trust Consumer Staples AlphaDEX (NYSEArca: FXG) dipped slightly in early trading, however, dragged down by lower earnings for Molson Coors (NYSE: TAP) and a 2.5% dip in Archer-Daniels-Midland (NYSE: ADM) stock. Whole Foods stock is 4.8% of FXG.
- PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP) is down 2% after the company said it faces headwinds from high unemployment, cost inflation and a potentially tough competitive pricing environment. CEO Indra Noovi sounded a cautious note for 2011. She says consumers remain pressured by high unemployment and costs for raw materials are expected to remain high. Competition, especially with rival Coca-Cola remains stiff, and Pepsi’s numbers suggest Coke is taking business. The PoweShares Dynamic Food & Beverage ETF (NYSEArca: PBJ) is down slightly in early trading.
- The troubled euro has dipped below $1.36 against the U.S. dollar after yields on the debt of Portugal rose. Investors continue to be concerned about the ability of Portugal and other countries to pay their debts. CurrencyShares Euro Trust (NYSEArca: FXE) is down 1% so far today.
Read the disclaimer; Tom Lydon is a board member of Rydex|SGI. Gregory A. Clay contributed to this article.
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