After dropping more than 100 points in early trading Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) fought its way back and wound up closing down just 0.02%. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) was also nearly flat, gaining 0.29% on the day, while the Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC ) managed to book a larger gain of 0.81%.
We did see some more positive unemployment data released yesterday. The ADP monthly hiring report indicated that payrolls increased by 325,000 in December, beating the forecast of 175,000. In a separate report, applications for jobless benefits in the last week of December dropped to 372,000, lower than analysts had been expecting.
But Europe continues to weigh down any advances domestically. Investors are still concerned about European debt, specifically European banks' ability to raise capital, as the euro fell under $1.28.
Today's big nonfarm payroll report from the Labor Department will help shed some more light on state of the domestic economy. According to Bloomberg, analysts are expecting an increase of 150,000 payroll jobs last month and for the unemployment rate to increase slightly to 8.7%. Pay attention to this one, since it's sure to help drive the markets one way or the other on Friday.
A winner and a loser
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) was one company that managed to rise to the top yesterday, gaining 8.6%. It was a good day for bank stocks overall, with JPMorgan Chase up more than 2% as well on rumors that the government is thinking about introducing a huge mortgage-refinancing program.
The biggest loser of the Dow yesterday was Boeing (NYSE: BA ) , which lost 1.1%. The aerospace giant announced that it will miss its goal of 485 to 495 planes delivered this year because of production delays in its 747-8 freighters and its new 787 Dreamliner. Adding insult to injury, Boeing's chief competitor, Airbus, announced that it had beat its target of 520 to 530 planes this year, making it eight straight years that that company has built more planes than Boeing.
Bank of America outperformed the market handily yesterday, but if you're interested in the one stock that our chief investment officer picked to crush the market for all of 2012, check out our brand new report, "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." It highlights a company that is revolutionizing commerce in Latin America. You can get instant access to the name of this company for free.