Top Performing Mutual Funds in the Sector You’d Least Expect

Yesterday was a “sigh.” Today is an “ugh.” The labor market in the U.S. just
can’t get any momentum going.

Today’s non-farm payroll number for July came in lighter than expected. And
the number of job losses came in higher. Put those together and you get a bad
overall employment number. Ugh.

Through the miracle of statistics, the unemployment rate held steady. But it
doesn’t really matter. Every investor knows that number is a sham, and stocks
would be off today even if the “official” unemployment number fell to 5%.

I’ve said repeatedly that employment will be the last sector of the U.S.
economy to show gains. But it still feels like we are being overwhelmed by
the negativity of the employment numbers.

The Virtuous Cycle

In a recent survey by the National Association of Business Economics, 70% of economists said they believe the U.S. economy will grow by more than 2%. Just three months ago, only 61% of surveyed economists had such bullish expectations.   


And it gets better. 24% of surveyed economists believe 3% growth is coming, up from just 14% January.   


The details of the survey also show that employment is improving in the hardest-hit sectors: real estate, finance and manufacturing. And salaries are also on the rise.   

Alcoa: Meet, Miss or Beat?

There are some investors who think the significance of aluminum company Alcoa’s earnings is overblown. There are stocks that provide a better measure of consumer spending habits, or otherwise give more insight into the economy’s health.  


But because Alcoa is always the first major company to report, it’s numbers are still treated like an omen for the 499 companies on the S&P 500.  


So, if you ignore one-time charges, Alcoa (NYSE:AA) reported $0.10 a share 1st Quarter profit yesterday afternoon. I would swear I read on Yahoo! Finance that analysts were expecting $0.11 a share. That would mean Alcoa missed estimates.