Why the Dow's On Fire Today

After four straight negative trading sessions, the broad markets are soaring after U.S payrolls increased by 163,000, sunstantially better than the 100,000 economists had expected for July. Despite the seasonally adjusted jobs numbers being significantly lower than what we saw five months ago, July's numbers are giving investors renewed confidence after the Fed's inaction earlier in the week. That said, unemployment moved higher (to 8.3%) as more workers are re-entering the jobs market.

Recap  

Index

Gain/Loss

Gain/Loss %

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) 237.42 1.84%
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) 27.22 1.99%
Nasdaq 62.79 2.16%

Source: Yahoo! Finance 11:35 a.m. EDT.

The bullish sentiment and increasing crude oil prices are pushing the energy sector higher today. The bump is good news, as the sector is expected to show a 14% growth decline over the past quarter, according to Capital IQ research. The second quarter was plagued by decreasing oil and gas prices, hurting big oil and natural gas players, but today we see a different story from a few energy juniors.

The sharp decrease in natural gas prices and no expectation of them returning significantly higher in the near future has been a strong catalyst for commercial vehicles to make the switch from petroleum-based fuel to nat gas. The company who helped make this transition possible, Westport Innovations (Nasdaq: WPRT  ) , released a strong second-quarter report yesterday, beating EPS estimates by growing revenue 136.3%. The strong financial results coupled with a number of key joint-venture agreements over the past quarter resulted in a 10.7% stock price increase so far today.

Another strong performer is Kodiak Oil & Gas (NYSE: KOG  ) , up 7% this morning. The company has once again made significant strides over the past quarter, growing revenue 288% year over year as well as surpassing EPS estimates by $0.15. Things are looking bright for Kodiak, especially if oil prices continue to march higher -- the company expects a 50% growth rate over the next few years.

The market is not quite sure what to make of SandRidge's (NYSE: SD  ) excellent second quarter. Since announcing earnings after the markets closed yesterday, the stock has been shifting drastically from sizable gains to heavy losses. The oil-heavy junior significantly beat on both the top and bottom lines while also raising its 2012 production outlook by 700,000 barrels of oil equivalent and reducing costs through increased production efficiency.

Foolish bottom line
The markets are off to a huge gain today after the solid July jobs report, but while the report beat expectations, the jobs figures are far from spectacular. Unemployment is still rising thanks to more people re-entering the work force, showing how far we still have to go for the economy to reach a healthy level of structural employment. Given the markets' continuing volatility, solid dividend-paying stocks become considerably more appealing. For this reason we have three dividend stocks that have storied traditions and outstanding balance sheets. Click on this free report to gain immediate insight into the three dividend stocks investors need.  

Joel South owns shares of no company listed above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Westport Innovations. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Westport Innovations. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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