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JOLTS Data Tame, Most Indices See Profits Booked

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Just as we saw yesterday, three of the four major stock market indices were lower for the day; this time, it was the Nasdaq posting a gain of +44 points, +0.31%. The Dow and S&P 500 were down marginally (-0.22% and -0.06%, respectively) while the small-cap Russell 2000 — the only major index closing in the green a day ago — sank -1.38% in today’s session.

This morning, after the market opened, we heard from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) for October, where results came in lower than expected: 8.7 million domestic job openings fell -617K from the previous month’s downwardly revised 9.4 million. This represents the lowest level since March. There’s also little that leads us to expect stronger numbers in the coming months. Healthcare and Social Services dropped the most for the month, -236K, followed by Financial/Insurance at -168K.

Job Quits fell to their second-lowest level of the past 12-month cycle, 3.6 million — 2.3%, which is steady month over month. This is well off the 4.5 million pace we were seeing in early 2022, when jobs were easier to come by, but still elevated compared to prior to the Covid pandemic. Professional and Business Services saw 97K quits, which led all industries by a fairly wide margin. Overall, JOLTS numbers did not “jolt” the markets, but they are also reporting a month in arrears.

S&P Services PMI came in above the all-important 50 mark for November, but lower than anticipated: 50.4 versus 50.8 expected. However, it was thankfully 80 basis points (bps) above the downwardly revised 50.0 reported for October. ISM Services for November outpaced expectations — 52.7% versus 52.4% — and above the 51.8% reported the previous month. We generally look for decent numbers (at least!) during this holiday shopping season in the Services sector, and these figures bear this out.

Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers (TOL - Free Report) outperformed expectations on both top and bottom lines this afternoon, posting impressive earnings of $4.11 per share, compared with the $3.66 expected (though still below the $4.67 per share from a year ago, when mortgage rates were much lower) on quarterly sales of $2.95 billion, which, although -18% from the year-ago quarter, were still well above the estimated $2.78 billion. The recent relative drop (75bps) in mortgage rates boosted the company in the quarter, as shares in late trading are +3% and at new all-time highs.

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