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It's Only Money

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 business commentator

Dallas, TX – It's Friday so "It's Only Money," a review of the big and not-so-big stories of the week.

Baffled, bewildered, bamboozled - confused. That's how Wall Street and everybody else felt this morning when the employment stats for last month were released.

For the first time in five months, employers reduced their payrolls. 43,000 jobs were cut last month. The expectation was for an increase of 15,000. So one might think with that bit of negative news, the unemployment rate would go up. Wrong. The unemployment rate went down one tenth of percent to 5.6%. That's a six-month low. And you guessed it - they expected to come in higher at 5.9%. And what's getting to be a regular development, the Department of Labor revised its estimate of payrolls for August. This time they found another 68,000 were added to payrolls.

Two articles on the front page of the New York Times Business section raise the case that the bottom of the stock market might be nearing. One compared this year's market activity with that of 1974. We made lows in July, rallied, then took out those lows in September. A similar scenario occurred in 1974. That was the bottom of that cycle. The other article suggested that the Treasury Market, bonds and notes may no longer be the place to invest. Treasury note yields are at their lowest levels since the late 1950's, implying no matter how bad the stock market is right now, returns still would be better than the treasury market. Investors have been flocking to the bond and note markets looking for a safe haven. Both propose it might be time to test the waters back in stocks. Thanks for the suggestion.

And the United Nations Economic Commission, in a 380-page report, announced that purchasing of industrial robots has plummeted. It was down 40% in Japan and 17% in the U.S. Maybe we could get a good deal on a robot now.

And Shirley MacLaine having a very in-body experience can be seen on TV Sunday evening, portraying the late, great Mary Kay Ash. Appropriately the TV movie is called, "Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay." For KERA Marketplace Middays, I'm Maxine Shapiro.

Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 p.m. To contact Maxine Shapiro, please send emails to mshapiro@kera.org.