Yesterday was a light trading day for the market, with all three of the major indices closing essentially flat. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) finished up 0.17%, while the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) gained just 0.02% and the Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC) dropped 0.01%.
Up-and-down day yesterday
Overall, we saw a mixed bag of economic reports yesterday. Bad news out of Europe helped drag down markets after the opening bell. Overnight deposits at the European Central Bank hit an all-time high, raising concerns of liquidity as banks may be less willing to lend to other banks. Tight credit markets are also worrying investors as some European governments look to refinance their debt.
What may have been a negative day was turned around in part by encouraging December vehicle sales numbers. Ford (NYS: F) reported a 10% gain in its December vehicle sales, as the company topped 2 million vehicles sold in 2011 for the first time since 2007. General Motors also had a solid showing, increasing sales 4.6% from last December.
What to look for today
Keep an eye on Eastman Kodak (NYS: EK) today. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company has begun preparing for a potential Chapter 11 bankruptcy-protection filing if its efforts to sell its huge portfolio of patents is unsuccessful. That report sent the stock tumbling down more than 28% yesterday. Don't be surprised if the company continues its slide today.
There are also several economic reports due out today, with some of them concentrating on the job market and unemployment rates. They include:
ADP National Unemployment Report: first release of government-sponsored economic data for the month.
Initial Claims: measures the number of jobless claims filed by those seeking state jobless benefits.
Continuing Claims: measures the number of individuals currently covered by unemployment insurance and receiving benefits.
Challenger Job Cuts: measures the number of announced corporate layoffs.
So while yesterday was a relatively flat day for all of the major indices, don't expect that for the next couple of days. These reports should help push the markets one way or the other as the anticipation for Friday's Nonfarm Payrolls report builds up. That's the survey that produces the unemployment rate, one of the best indicators of broad economic activity released each month, and one that the markets will certainly react strongly to.
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