Major U.S. stock indexes closed mixed on Thursday and remained in a holding pattern in Friday’s premarket. That situation changed following the employment situation report for December. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nonfarm payrolls increased by 199,000 jobs last month, less than half the consensus estimate of 440,000 new jobs. The headline unemployment rate dropped from 4.2% to 3.9%, more than the estimate of a drop to 4.1%. The major indexes reacted to the report by falling steeply.
Crude oil remained near $80 a barrel Friday morning, while Bitcoin traded down by nearly 2% at around $42,200. The yield on a 10-year Treasury note was essentially unchanged at 1.73%, after rising by two basis points on Thursday, and the two-year yield also remained essentially unchanged at 0.88%. The 10-year/two-year spread tightened by three basis points on Thursday to 0.85%.
Stocks on our meme stock watch list generally closed lower on Thursday, but here we focus on three winners Friday morning. GameStop Corp. (NYSE: GME) added a bit more than 1% in regular trading Thursday. After the bell, however, the stock soared by as much as 30% following a report in The Wall Street Journal that the mall store operator is developing a marketplace for nonfungible tokens as part of its so-far mysterious turnaround plan.
GameStop reportedly has hired a staff of more than 20 to build and run an “online hub for buying, selling and trading NFTs of virtual videogame goods such as avatar outfits and weapons.” Because gamers already spend a fair amount on virtual goods, GameStop’s entry into the NFT space is a positive development. But there’s already a lot of competition, and more on the way. Shares traded up about 19% in Friday’s premarket session.
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) closed Thursday with a gain of about 8%, a bit better than half the 15% gain it had at the opening bell. Given the company’s weak earnings report and lowered guidance, the general opinion seems to be that retail investors piled in forcing short sellers to cover their bets and pushing the stock price higher. The stock traded up by less than 1% in Friday’s premarket.
AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (NYSE: AMC) dipped by about 1.3% on Thursday but traded up by around 5% in early trading Friday. The company had no news, but once again, retail investors homed in on the stock and boosted trading volume to more than 51 million shares.
Thursday’s biggest loser was electric van maker Cenntro Electric Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: NAKD), which dropped by nearly 10%. The stock is down more than 2% in Friday’s premarket. The former lingerie retailer (known as Naked Brand Group) filed a shelf registration statement with the SEC on Thursday for nearly 189 million shares of stock to be sold by selling shareholders. The company will receive no proceeds from the sale of this stock.