Why the Dow's Jumping Around Today

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) has had a bumpy ride so far today, edging lower early on before jumping up -- and then nudging down again. As of 2:15 p.m. EDT, the index is down 12 points, or 0.09%. Earnings season has some stocks flying high. Not all is well, however, and two laggards are weighing heavily on the Dow. Let's go over what you need to know about the blue chips in midday trading.

A few good stocks...
Today's jobless report certainly isn't helping the Dow. The index's early-morning losses can be traced to the release, which showed the rise of initial unemployment benefits claims accelerating and bumping four-week averages higher. The economy as a whole hasn't done too badly otherwise, however -- particularly given how bad the third-quarter earnings season was projected to be, relative to how it has performed so far.

Travelers (NYSE: TRV  ) scored an "A+" for its quarterly earnings. The company smashed earnings projections for the quarter after doubling its income, sending shares up 3.9% so far today. Telecoms have also had a great day: Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) and AT&T (NYSE: T  ) have risen 2.4% and 1.2%, respectively. Verizon drove up profits by 16% to meet analyst estimates, having succeeded brilliantly in mobile.

...and a few not-so-good ones
On the downside of earnings season, the tech sector continues to decline today, led by one stock that has fallen dramatically from 52-week highs posted earlier this month. Tech giant IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) is having a terrible week, with shares down 3% today after falling significantly yesterday as well. The company posted a poor earnings report that has tech investors questioning the sustained growth of the PC sector, although the entire tech industry as a whole has failed to post anything good this earnings season.

Financials have also slugged their way through a bad day. American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) shareholders have to be fretting, as shares have dropped 2.5% so far today to rank among the Dow's biggest drops. The credit card company indicated that the global economic environment has caused credit card spending to slow, sparking the drop even as American Express posted a solid quarterly report that met expectations.

The market may be up and down today, but overall it's been a good week so far. With earnings season underway, it's important that you grab the best stocks to beat volatility. To keep your portfolio in tip-top shape, check out "The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors Are Buying." You can learn about all of them in our exclusive free report. Just click here to keep reading.

Dan Carroll has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of International Business Machines and has the following options: short OCT 2012 $55.00 puts on American Express Company, short OCT 2012 $60.00 calls on American Express Company, and long OCT 2012 $65.00 calls on American Express Company. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend American Express Company. 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.

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