Long-Term Unemploymed and Discouraged Workers Take Brunt of March Disappointment

24/7 Wall St.

100279619The real terror of the March unemployment figures was not that the economy added only 88,000 jobs. Much worse than that is the lack of improvement in the situations of those battered the most by the halting recovery — the long-term unemployed and part-time and discouraged workers. So little progress has been made among these groups that it can barely be measured. And the best sign of a full-blown recovery likely will be when improvements occur across the broadest spectrum.

The number of long-term unemployed (those out of work more than 27 weeks) remained flat from February at 4.6 million, which is about the same as the population of all of urban Houston. These persons represent 36.9% of the entire unemployment pool. They put the heaviest burden on unemployment benefits, and as their plight reaches more than 99 weeks, many will have no benefits at all.

The other group that…

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Trade Deficit Shrinks Handily in February

24/7 Wall St.

Maersk container shipThe U.S. trade balance, better known as the trade deficit, was reported as -$43.0 billion for the month of February 2012. This is down from the -$44.8 billion expected by Bloomberg and is also lower than the -$44.4 billion reported in January. As a reminder, the jump in January was versus -$38.1 billion in December.

It appears that oil imports account for that big drop in the trade deficit. Oil imports appeared to be at a decade low and the higher exports of energy helped bridge the gap elsewhere.

Today’s report came from the Commerce Department, and there are two reasons that this does not move the needle much. Well, three reasons. First is that the numbers have a big lag as the data is two months old. Second is that trade deficits have persisted for what is now becoming most of our lifetimes. The last reason that today’s report…

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J.P. Morgan Says Apple and Other Underperforming Stocks Should Lead the Market in Second Quarter (AAPL, BRCM, CHKP, ESRX, MYL, TASR, CHS)

24/7 Wall St.

Apple-storeWith earnings season kicking off next week and a plethora of challenging global news hitting the tape, investors are becoming a touch skeptical of the current rally. Are we hitting a bump in the road after strong gains and looking to rebound after a sell-off? Or are more obstacles currently present that could derail the march to the secular bull market?

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) strategist Thomas Lee and his staff have concluded that leading stocks that underperformed in the first quarter of this year will pick up the baton and become the market leaders in the second quarter. In a research report released today, the mega Wall St. bank points out that the two worst-performing sectors in the first quarter have outperformed in the second quarter of the year in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. They went on to point out that has been the case…

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