Bloomberg News

U.S. Stock Futures Hold Gains After Productivity, Jobless Data

June 02, 2011

June 2 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures maintained gains after government data showed worker productivty grew more than economists estimated and jobless claims decreased.

S&P 500 futures contracts expiring in June rose 0.3 percent to 1,315.4 at 8:38 a.m. in New York. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures expiring the same month advanced 16 points, or 0.1 percent, to 12,290.

Worker productivity, the measure of employee output per hour, increased at a 1.8 percent annual rate after a 2.9 percent gain in the prior three months, revised figures from the Labor Department showed. The median economist forecast was for 1.7 percent.

Jobless claims fell by 6,000 to 422,000 in the week ended May 28, Labor Department figures showed. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected a drop in claims to 417,000, according to the median forecast. The number of people on unemployment benefit rolls and those receiving extended payments decreased.

The S&P 500 sank 2.3 percent yesterday, extending its decline from an almost three-year high on April 29 to 3.6 percent, as slower growth in jobs and manufacturing fueled concern that the economy is faltering. The Citigroup Economic Surprise Index, which tracks the degree to which data beat or missed forecasts, yesterday closed at its lowest level since January 2009.

Investors also awaited tomorrow’s monthly non-farm payrolls data to assess the severity of the economic slowdown. Companies added 38,000 workers to payrolls in May, according to figures from ADP Employer Services reported yesterday, less than one- quarter of the median forecast by economists. The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index showed that U.S. manufacturing expanded in May at the slowest pace since September 2009.

The reports sent the S&P 500 to a six-week low yesterday. The index now trades at 13.2 times the estimated earnings of its companies, according to Bloomberg data, the lowest valuation since March 18.

The losses are creating a buying opportunity for investors willing to withstand declines that may reach 10 percent, according to Blackstone Group LP’s Byron Wien.

Yesterday’s decrease was the 126th decline of 2 percent or more during bull markets since 1962, according to Kevin Pleines, an analyst at Birinyi Associates Inc. in Westport, Connecticut. Of those, 30 percent occurred within a month of the start of a so-called correction, or 10 percent drop, he said.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Regan at mregan12@bloomberg.net


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