Economy Watch: Mixed Jobs Reports So Far This Week

The monthly parade of jobs numbers has begun again, first with a report by Challenger, Grey & Christmas, which on Wednesday reported a 11.6 percent rise in mass layoffs in June compared with the previous month. Compared with June 2010, the increase was 5.3 percent, the first such annual increase since February. “The employment picture remains a bit cloudy,” John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, says in a (under)statement.

TrimTabs Investment Research, a California-based research firm that specializes in “equity market liquidity,” asserts that employers added 127,000 jobs in June, a much better showing than May, though not terrific. “The rapid increase in oil prices earlier this year spooked everyone,” Madeline Schnapp, director of macroeconomic research at TrimTabs, notes in a statement. “Hiring managers put the brakes on hiring until oil prices moderated.”

Those are just warm-up reports, however. On Thursday, the ADP National Employment Report will be released. Sometimes ADP is significantly different from official U.S. Department of Labor numbers, which will be out on Friday. On the other hand, sometimes ADP scores a bull’s eye, as it did last month, when it reported very weak job growth.

ISM Non-Manufacturing Index takes a dip

The Institute for Supply Management reported on Wednesday that its Non-Manufacturing Index declined to 53.3 percent in June, 1.3 percentage points lower than the May reading of 54.6 percent. That contrasts with a month-over-month increase in the ISM Manufacturing Index, which was up 1.8 percent between May and June. The economy is making things, just not so many jobs.

Various index components of the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index were down, such as business activity/production (losing 0.2 percentage points), new orders (down 3.2 percentage points), supplier deliveries (down 2 percentage points) and inventories (down 1.5 percent). Employment, however, gained a scant 0.1 percentage points, and new export orders were exactly flat, month-over-month.

“Respondents’ comments are mixed about the business climate and vary by industry and company,” the report notes. “The most prominent concern remains about the volatility of prices.” The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index is now within spitting distance of 50; a reading below that denotes contraction.

The largest payday loans in history

Who took the largest short-term bailout from the Federal Reserve during the darkest days of the Panic of 2008? Those previously secret loans were news on Wednesday as a result of a successful Freedom of Information Act request by Bloomberg News, and the bailout champ turned out to be a unit of Goldman Sachs, which borrowed $15 billion from the central bank on Dec. 9, 2008, the largest single-day loan that year. The term of the loan was 28 days.

All together, 19 banks received loans from the Fed during the period, and not all of them were American banks. RBS Securities, a unit of the Royal Bank of Scotland, borrowed from the Fed more than once, and so did the Swiss UBS Securities. All of the loans were paid back before long.

Wall Street had a volatile day on Wednesday, but eventually ended in the win column. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 56.15 points, or 0.45 percent, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were up 0.1 percent and 0.29 percent, respectively.

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