Was the negative U.S. unemployment data actually good news for markets today? It appears that way, as The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) jumped 1.24% despite a Labor Department report that showed U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly increased. But strangely enough, investors actually seemed to enjoy the report, as it increases the odds that the Federal Reserve will step in to stimulate the economy after its meeting next Wednesday.
Europe was another big reason for the Dow's rally today, as news leaked that central banks were willing to take action to stabilize the eurozone in the event that the Greek elections upend markets next week.
While the Dow managed a solid gain, there were individual stocks that fared even better on the day.
|Travelers (NYSE: TRV )
|Home Depot (NYSE: HD )
|Bank of America (NYSE: BAC )
Travelers, the oft-forgotten Dow stock, was the index's biggest gainer today. The company led a broad surge in the financial sector on the day, with Bank of America joining it as the Dow's third highest riser. Financial stocks are some of the most sensitive to the global economy, so anytime we see enthusiasm from worldwide markets, it's certainly good news for the sector. Bank of America continues to be the Dow's top performer on the year, up nearly 38%, while Travelers is beating the Dow by about 3 percentage points, up 7% in 2012.
Home Depot had a good day as well, as investors pushed the stock up on optimism that today's disappointing economic data could lead to further stimulus, which could certainly benefit the home-improvement retailer.
Outside the Dow, Facebook (Nasdaq: FB ) gained a much-needed 3.7% on the day. Facebook got a boost from Apple, which announced yesterday at its Worldwide Developers Conference that it is incorporating Facebook into its next-generation iOS 6 mobile operating software due out this fall. Among other things, the technology will allow users to share photos directly with Facebook and update Facebook statuses by talking into their phones using Apple's Siri voice-recognition software. While that's good news for the company, Facebook stock still has a long way to go to get IPO investors out of the red; it's dropped more than 25% since going public nearly a month ago.
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