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Midday Market Update

Stocks Sink After Disappointing Jobs Report

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U.S. Market
Stocks fell this morning after a disappointing jobs report.

The economy added 88,000 jobs in March, well below the 200,000 expected by economists. January and February’s numbers were revised upwards.  A separate survey showed the unemployment rate falling to 7.6% from 7.7% as more people dropped out of the workforce. Average earnings were up slightly in the month as was the average work week.

The trade deficit shrank 3.4% in February to $42.96 billion from $44.46 billion as crude oil imports fell 21%. Economists had expected the deficit to rise to $45.0 billion. Imports outside of oil, rose in the month while exports shrank

At midday the DowS&P 500 and Nasdaq were down 0.7%, 0.9% and 1.1% respectively.

Stocks on the Move
 Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) announced late Thursday that Ray Lane will  relinquish his role as board chairman, but will continue to serve as a director. Activist investor Ralph Whitworth, of Relational Investors, will serve as temporary chair until a permanent replacement is appointed. Two current directors, G. Kennedy Thompson and John Hammergren, will leave the board after its May meeting. Given the level of shareholder scrutiny that Lane and the board in general have faced over the past 18 months, this news isn't overly surprising. H-P shares were down 1.6% at midday. 

 F5 Networks (FFIV) plunged 18% after the firm announced that fiscal second-quarter results will come in  below management's previous guidance. Management expects revenue to be $350 million, versus previous guidance of $370 million to $380 million, and versus our forecast of $375 million. Assuming service revenue remains stable sequentially, we estimate F5's product revenue will fall roughly 7% from the year-ago, which will be the first year-over-year decline since the September 2009 quarter. On a more upbeat note, management expects GAAP gross margin to remain unchanged sequentially at 83%, suggesting reasonably stable software attach rates and pricing.

Foreign Markets
European shares moved sharply lower today. In late trading, the FTSE 100, Paris CAC and Germany’s DAX were down 1.5%, 1.7% and 2.1% respectively.

Asian markets were mixed. Japanese shares continued their upward streak with the Nikkei 225 tacking on another 1.6%. The Shanghai Composite was off 0.1% while the Hang Seng was down 2.7%.

Jeremy Glaser does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.