Wall Street's Top Stories - Mar 8th 2019

Stocks cut losses in final hours of trading following disappointing U.S. jobs data

Stocks began the day in negative territory and remained there throughout the session. The early weakness was attributed to poor export data out of China and then solidified by the lower than expected jobs data in the U.S. The averages were able to pare their losses dramatically in the last few hours of trading, but stocks still finished with their worst weekly performance of the year. 

ECONOMIC NEWS: In the U.S., nonfarm payrolls increased a mere 20,000 in February, which was much weaker than the roughly 180,000 forecast. However, the unemployment rate fell to 3.8% from 4.0% previously and average hourly earnings rose 0.4%, which marked the best gain in almost 10 years. Housing starts bounced 18.6% to a 1.23M rate in January following a 14.0% drop to a 1.04M rate in December. In energy news, Baker Hughes reported that the U.S. rig count is down 11 rigs from last week to 1,027 rigs.

In political news, Bill Shine offered his resignation as Assistant to the President and Communications Director, and President Trump accepted. After leaving the White House, Shine will be joining Trump's re-election efforts. In addition, Fox Business reported that China's president Xi Jinping has just removed a trip to the U.S. to see President Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

In China, exports plunged 20.7% year-over-year in February, which was well off the median forecast for a comparatively moderate drop of 4.8%. In addition, a rare "sell" rating from China's largest brokerage was taken as a sign that the government wants to limit gains on equity markets.

TOP NEWS: Shares of Costco (COST) rose 5% after the retailer reported better than expected earnings for the second quarter, with total comparable sales up 6.7% on an adjusted basis year-over-year. Of note, the company said on its Q2 conference call that it is raising its minimum wage for its employees from $14 and $14.50 to $15 and $15.50 per hour in both the U.S. and Canada.

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