Employers added 115,000 workers to their payrolls last month, the Labor Department said on Friday.
The reading keeps fears alive that the U.S. economy is losing momentum and dampens hopes that a stretch of strong winter hiring signaled a turning point for the recovery.
The unemployment rate ticked a tenth of a point lower to a three-year low, as people left the work force. The jobless rate is derived from a separate survey of households, which showed a drop in the number of jobs in April.
Still, the government revised upward its initial estimates for payroll growth in February and March by a combined 53,000. That left the six-month average of job growth at 197,000, nearly exactly where it would have been had April job growth come in as expected at 170,000.
Chesapeake Energy [CHK 17.19 ] – The energy producer has confirmed that the company and Chairman/CEO Aubrey McLendon are the subjects of an informal Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry. Chesapeake says the inquiry should not be construed as an indication that any violation of securities law has occurred. Controversy has arisen in recent days over a perk that allowed McLendon to purchase a stake in each of Chesapeake’s natural gas wells.
First Solar [FSLR 18.07 ] – The solar equipment maker posted an unexpected quarterly loss, but raised its full-year profit forecast thanks to decreasing production costs. It also appointed Chief Commercial Officer James Hughes as its new CEO, replacing company founder and chairman Mike Ahearn, who had been serving on an interim basis since last October.
LinkedIn [LNKD 109.41 ] – The company has increased its profit outlook for the year, after exceeding Street estimates with its first-quarter profit and revenues. It credits a jump in new members, as well as increased use of the service by existing members, among other factors. Separately, LinkedIn has announced the acquisition of content sharing service SlideShare for nearly $119 million in cash and stock.
American International Group [AIG 34.14 ] – AIG reported first-quarter profit of $1.65 per share, exceeding estimates of $1.12. Revenue, however, fell short of estimates. The insurer’s bottom line more than doubled from a year earlier, when it saw significant losses related to the Japanese earthquake.
Kraft Foods [KFT 39.59 ] – Kraft earned $0.57 per share for the first quarter, one cent above estimates, with revenues essentially in line. Kraft was helped by higher prices for its products, and the company says its plan to split into two companies later this year remains on track.
Warnaco [WRC 51.13 — UNCH ] – The apparel maker reported first-quarter profit of $0.90 per share, below estimates of $0.92, and it also cut its earnings outlook for the year because of challenging conditions in Europe, as well as increased discounts in its U.S. markets.
Dolby Labs [DLB 37.63 ] – The company has struck an agreement with Microsoft [MSFT 31.76 ] to use its Dolby Digital Plus product in Windows 8. Dolby also reported fiscal second-quarter profit of $0.81 per share, six cents above Street estimates.
United Parcel Service [UPS 78.07 — UNCH ] – The package delivery service has received board authorization to buy back an additional $5 billion in stock, although it’s lowered its projection for this year’s share repurchases as it finances its purchase of TNT Express.
Duke Energy [DUK 21.40 ] – Duke reported first-quarter profit of $0.38 per share, two cents above estimates. The company says cost controls helped it mitigate the negative effects of extremely mild weather.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber [GT 10.90 ] – The stock has been added to the “short-term buy” list at Deutsche Bank.
Whole Foods Markets [WFM 90.69 ] – JPMorgan Chase has upgraded the grocer’s stock to “overweight” from “neutral,” raised earnings estimates, and increased its price target to $105 from $77.
FedEx [FDX 88.86 ] – The stock has been upgraded to “strong buy” from “outperform” at Raymond James.
Aon [AON 51.35 — UNCH ] – The insurance company reported quarterly profit of $0.98 per share, excluding certain items, compared to estimates of $0.84. Its bottom line did suffer a negative impact from unfavorable currency fluctuations.
Estee Lauder [EL 64.15 ] – The cosmetics maker reported first-quarter profit of $0.38 per share, excluding certain items, five cents above consensus estimates. The company has also raised its yearly earnings per share guidance to $2.21 to $2.26 from the prior $2.16 to $2.23, as sales have been slightly better than forecast.