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Despite positive news this morning about jobs and housing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) still fell for its fourth consecutive day, losing 18 points, or 0.14%. Building on the gains in last week's jobs report, initial unemployment claims numbered just 339,000, far better than expectations of 370,000. That was the lowest level of newly unemployed Americans for four-and-half years, though that number is adjusted for seasonality.
On the housing front, another important economic measure hit a low not seen in five years, as foreclosure filings dipped to its lowest level since July 2007. Substantial decreases in filings in California and some of the other states most affected by the housing bubble helped push the September numbers down to 180,427, 7% below August's total, and 16% down from a year ago.
Not surprisingly, financials were among the biggest winners today, as improved job numbers and a recovering housing market are both bright signs for the banks. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) paced the gainers, moving up 1.4%, as it continues its recovery from the housing crisis. Optimism about tomorrow's earnings reports from JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) , which gained 0.8%, and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC ) , may also have boosted the sector, as did reports that the European Commission will delay new rules tightening bank liquidity requirements.
AT&T (NYSE: T ) , meanwhile, led the Dow losers, falling 1.8%, as rival Sprint revealed that it was in talks to receive a "potentially substantial investment" from Japanese telecom Softbank. The talks seem to indicate a further concentration in the domestic telecom industry following T-Mobile's agreement to by MetroPCS last week. A revamped T-Mobile and Sprint could challenge the duopoly that AT&T and Verizon, which fell 1.3% on the news, have staked out.
Finally, Disney fell 1.7%, after Stan Lee Media announced it was suing the media giant over the rights to Marvel characters, including Spider Man and Iron Man, and claims Disney owes Stan Lee billions of dollars from the use of its trademarks.
Looking ahead to tomorrow, pre-market earnings reports from JPMorgan and Wells Fargo are likely to set the tone for the day. Analysts are expecting an EPS of $1.21 from JPMorgan, and $0.87 from Wells Fargo.
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