Analysts had estimated that 200,000 jobs would be added; instead the number came in at 292,000 and November’s number was revised higher to 252,000 from 211,000. October was also revised higher to 307,000 from 298,000.
Unfortunately, those jobs did not translate well to apparel, where textile product mills and apparel both dropped 0.2 percent from November to December. Retail also fared poorly. Clothing store jobs plunged 17.5 percent and this data is from December, when jobs should be spiking. Employment in general merchandise stores slid 4.7 percent and department stores declined 5.8 percent.
The S&P 500 jumped 13 points to 1,956, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 107 points to 16,621 and the Nasdaq increased 47 points to 4,735.
American Eagle Outfitters was selling off by over 12 percent to $13.82 even after the retailer said same-store sales for the fourth quarter were up 4 percent to date. The company reiterated its fourth-quarter earnings-per-share guidance of 40 to 42 cents a diluted share. Investors were expecting a better sales increase from AEO. But unlike many mall chain retailers, AEO stock is up 14 percent for the past year.
Gap Inc. also disappointed investors when it reported after Thursday’s market close that its December comps had dropped 5 percent. Old Navy, the silver lining for the company, had its second month of declines in a row. The stock was descending over 7 percent to $24.65 in early trading. It’s been an ugly year for the company as the stock has fallen over 36 percent for the past year and while it looked like it wouldn’t go under $25, it is breaking down below that this morning.
Urban Outfitters is ticking up over 2 percent to $22.55 as the specialty retailer tried to shift focus away from its holiday sales and more to its sales for the past 11 months. For the two months ending December, sales dropped 2 percent at both Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, but rose 2 percent at Free People. When looking at the past 11 months, total company net sales increased 4 percent. Urban said its strong online sales offset weaker store sales.
Avon stock is jumping over 5 percent to $3.15 after the cosmetics company said it was going to use Hewlett-Packard to transform its infrastructure. HP will overhaul Avon’s systems and set up processes that will help the Avon salespeople. This has been one of the company’s weaknesses and a complaint from the sales staff.
Elsewhere, China, which had set off the global market meltdown this week, managed to close the day higher by 2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed up 0.6 percent, but Japan’s Nikkei Index fell 0.4 percent.
Europe’s markets managed to post gains in the midday trading session. The U.K. FTSE was led higher with a buy rating from Barclays on food retailer Tesco. The German DAX was higher by 0.7 percent and France’s CAC was up by 0.4 percent.