It was another wild and volatile week in the equity markets this past week, although the turbulent activity was tempered somewhat by the lack of trading volume. Stocks started out the week on a weak note, and rebounded slightly to end mixed on Friday. What really threw cold water on the stock market this week was the ugly weekly jobs report, which showed 500,000 new jobless claims. That is appalling given how much time has passed since the "recession" officially began in December 2007.
Friday the 13th of 2010 actually came this past Wednesday, when the stock market began to panic over a possible double-dip recession when the Federal Reserve issued another warning about our nation’s weak economic conditions. The major stock indexes all dropped by nearly 3% on that dismal Wednesday and continued to sputter throughout the rest of the week.
Stocks were sent reeling southward this past Friday as the monthly jobs report was disappointing to say the least, and raised fresh worries about economic weakness and the risk of deflation. The jobs report, which showed non-farm payrolls fell by a larger-than-expected 131,000 last month, added to a stream of economic data over recent weeks that indicate the American recovery continues to weaken, and stoked fears the country could still fall back into a recession. This caused investors to scramble to buy relatively safe Treasury bonds at the expense of equities.
The temperatures in Alabama weren’t the only thing that was hot during the month of July. All of the major equity indexes were higher by around 7% for this past month, the biggest month investors have enjoyed since a year ago. Investors flip-flopped throughout July, buying stocks on strong earnings reports and then subsequently selling on weaker-than-expected economic numbers. For the sizzling month, the Dow rose 7.1 percent, its best showing since it rose 7.8 percent in July 2009.