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Pre-Market: SEC Inquires Into JC Penney's Financial Health; Job Growth Beats Forecasts

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What will the jobs report mean to the Fed?

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Stock futures are higher, while gold and Treasuries declined after a better-than-expected report on employment in the United States.

The US added 203,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 7%. Economists expected the report to show 180,000 new jobs and an unchanged unemployment rate of 7.3%.The participation rate was little changed at 63%.

September's non-farm payrolls increase was revised up to 175,00 from 163,000 and October was revised down by 4,000 to 200,000.

The public sector regained half of its losses from the government shutdown in October, rising by 7,000 heads. The only sectors that lost employees were information (-1,000) and finance (-3,000). The biggest gains came from transportation and warehousing (+30,500) and manufacturing (+27,000).

Personal income fell 0.1% on a monthly basis in October after rising 0.5% in September, a possible effect of the government shutdown. Consumer spending rose 0.3%, however.

Before the report came out stock futures were higher. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.39% at 15,879.00. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures rose 0.43% to 1,791.70. Earlier this morning, futures on that index peaked above 18,000. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures rose 0.35% to 3,491.00.

Still to come today is the preliminary reading of the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index, which economists expect to rise to 75.5 this month from 75.1 in November.

The big question on everyone's mind ahead of the jobs report release is what the Federal Reserve will do about it. A string of good economic data such as better-than-expected GDP and October's jobs report could lead the Fed to scale back quantitative easing, which would not be good for stocks. Later this morning, Fed members Charles Plosser and Charles Evans will give speeches that might shed light on their views of today's report.

In company news, JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) disclosed that the Securities and Exchange Commission has placed an inquiry into its financial health.

JC Penney "received a letter of inquiry from the Securities and Exchange Commission requesting information regarding the Company's liquidity, cash position, and debt and equity financing, as well as the Company's underwritten public offering of common stock announced on September 26, 2013," according to a regulatory filing.

Shares of the struggling retailer fell 2.5% in the pre-market.

Shares of Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) are up 4% this morning after the retailer said that it will spin off the Lands' End clothing line that it bought for $1.9 billion in 2002.

Another retailer, The Gap, Inc. (NYSE:GPS) was up slightly after reporting yesterday that sales were up 2% in November. Analysts expected revenue to rise just 0.8%.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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