After three consecutive days of drops, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) has mounted a re-ascent. Approximately two hours into the trading session, the blue chip index is up by 50 points, or 0.36%.
The catalyst for today's news was better-than-expected numbers on the jobless front. Data from the Labor Department showed that initial jobless claims, a widely watched economic metric, fell last week to the lowest level in more than four and a half years. According to the report, initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell by 30,000 applicants to 339,000. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a median of 370,000.
Yet all was not good on the macroeconomic front. Separately, a report issued by the Commerce Department showed that the U.S. trade deficit had widened last month due to a reduction in U.S. exports relative to imports. The difference between imports and exports in August increased to $44.2 billion, up from $42.5 billion in July.
The best-performing stocks on the Dow are the nation's first and second largest banks by assets: JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC). Both are up by nearly 2% following news that the European Union may delay a deadline for applying higher capital requirements.
The executives of both banks have made news recently. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan, was quoted as saying that he did the Federal Reserve a "favor" by buying the investment bank Bear Stearns. According to Dimon: "I'm going to say we've lost $5 billion to $10 billion on various things related to Bear Stearns now. And yes, I put it in the unfair category."
Upon hearing the news, traders on Main Streets throughout America immediately started playing the Justin Timberlake song "Cry Me a River." Evidently, Dimon has forgotten that his bank's funding source -- its deposits -- are insured by federal taxpayers and that the Federal Reserve effectively saved his job in 2008.
In other news, leading the way down are telecoms Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T (NYSE:T). The biggest news in this space today is that Sprint, the nation's third-largest wireless provider, is in potential takeover talks with the Japanese mobile carrier Softbank -- the latter is seeking to buy the former, that is.
John Maxfield owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.