Stronger consumer confidence in an economic recovery looks increasingly justified, as unemployment claims fell to their lowest weekly level in nearly four years. That pulled the stock market back from yesterday's sharp declines, and around 1:45 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) were up 119 points to 12,900.
Among Dow stocks, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) soared more than 4.5%. The company announced a new service called msnNOW, which claims to be a one-stop shop bringing users the most popular trending information from social media giants Facebook and Twitter, as well as breaking news and selected information from its Bing search engine. Whether the service will move the needle at Microsoft isn't clear, but at least the company seems to recognize the importance of tuning into social media.
American Express (NYSE: AXP ) rose 1.8%. A blog post from The New York Times highlighted findings from Bankrate that credit card rewards programs are still strong, despite a reduction in benefits from their debit-card counterparts. The difference? Debit-card fee legislation clamped down on their profitability, while credit cards still have more revenue potential.
Finally, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) was up about 2.6%. CEO Meg Whitman speculated yesterday that after Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) finalizes its purchase of Motorola Mobility, the Android platform might become closed. That in turn could boost prospects for HP's WebOS, although Whitman cautioned that it could take several years for the situation to play itself out.
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