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Jobs Report Hits 200K, Unemployment 4.1%; Plus More Q4 Earnings

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Friday, February 2, 2018

Happy Groundhog Day! As we see on the first Friday of almost every month, new non-farm payrolls from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) have been released before the opening bell. This comes in conjunction with tonnage of new Q4 earnings reports both after yesterday’s market close and before today’s open. The headline was better than expected, but not a huge surprise: 200K new jobs created in January, with an Unemployment Rate remaining steady at 4.1%.

While this 200K number is higher than the analyst consensus of roughly 180K (analyst for months have been expecting 180K new jobs), it is below the ADP (ADP - Free Report) payroll report released Wednesday morning, which showed 234K new jobs in just the private sector alone. Typically, however, while the ADP and BLS numbers do tend to align with future revisions, initially they are often far apart from one another.

Pre-market trading, which had been deep in the red ahead of the BLS announcement, clawed back to around -180 points on the Dow, only to plummet back to around -225 points following the news. Since that time, in the last 15 minutes or so, markets have again worked to climb out of its early hole. Meanwhile, the 10-year t-bill races up past 2.8% following the release of the jobs data.

Not that there is anything to particularly grieve in today’s jobs report: Construction posted the biggest improvement of any sector compared to a year ago, at 36K new jobs. And the U-6 (aka “real unemployment”) fell to 8.2%, the lowest we’ve seen in quite some time. Otherwise, these figures came in much as expected, aside from the predicted 4.1% unemployment rate, Average Hourly Earnings was again a positive, if tepid, +0.3% (2.9% year over year) and a consistent Labor Force Participation Rate of 62.7%.

Finally, December’s BLS totals were revised upward, from 148K to 160K. This is slightly offset by November’s revision, to 216K from the 252K originally announced.

Q4 Earnings Roundup

Following yesterday afternoon’s modest beat from Apple (AAPL - Free Report) , Amazon’s (AMZN - Free Report) biggest profit in history and Alphabet’s (GOOGL - Free Report) earnings miss on tax adjustment, before today’s bell bring another full load of earnings reports:

ExxonMobil (XOM - Free Report) missed both top- and bottom-line estimates, bringing in 88 cents per share ($1.04 for the Zacks consensus) on $66.5 billion in revenues ($74.4 billion expected). The Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company has now missed earnings estimates in 2 of the last 5 quarters. For more on XOM’s earnings, click here.

Phillips 66 (PSX - Free Report) , a downstream oil & gas play, easily topped expectations for its quarter: $1.07 per share outpaced the 86 cents anticipated, with $30.12 billion far ahead of the $23.67 billion in the Zacks consensus. For more on PSX’s earnings, click here.

Estee Lauder (EL - Free Report) also surpassed expectations with $1.52 per share and $3.74 billion in revenues beating the $1.44 per share and $3.67 billion we were looking for. The quarter was assisted by double-digit growth in Skincare, Makeup and Fragrance categories. For more on EL’s earnings, click here.

Merck (MRK - Free Report) topped estimates by 4 cents to 98 cents per share, while coming up short on revenue estimates: $10.43 billion as opposed to the $10.49 billion expected. Generic competition has affected the Big Pharma Dow component’s quarter. For more on MRK’s earnings, click here.

And Merck’s competitor AstraZeneca (AZN - Free Report) also faced generic competition for some of its top-selling drugs, but managed to top earnings and revenue expectations: 65 cents per share outperformed by 20 cents, whereas $5.78 billion in sales easily beat the $5.59 billion anticipated. For more on AZN’s earnings, click here.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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