Stocks Jump on Strong Economic Data

Markets are moving higher today after another round of solid (if not spectacular) economic data was released. The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index jumped to 72.2, up from 68.4 in October. Jobless claims fell 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted level of 363,000, and private-sector jobs rose 158,000. All of this has pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) up 0.9% and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) 1% higher in late trading.

The odd trio of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , and Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) are leading the Dow higher today, all rising more than 3%. Bank of America and Caterpillar are moving higher because any improvement in the economy will impact results going forward, so investors keep a close eye on economic news.

Microsoft isn't moving higher on any specific news, but investors are becoming more comfortable with the company's new operating system. When Microsoft unveiled Windows 8 and the new Surface tablet last week, the reviews were mixed, but clearly the fear of a complete flop is wearing off.

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) is one of the Dow's few losers today, falling more than 2%. There's nothing alarming driving shares down, but fellow Fool Anders Bylund speculated that Amazon's (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) decision to start Black Friday sales a month early may have something to do with the drop.

When strong economic data comes out, it should be no surprise that oil spikes along with stocks. The black gold is up 0.8% to nearly $87 per barrel in trading today

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It's been a frustrating path for Microsoft investors, who have watched their company fail to capitalize on the incredible growth in mobile over the past decade. However, with the release of its own tablet and the widely anticipated Windows 8 operating system, the company is looking to make a splash in this booming market. In this brand-new premium report on Microsoft our analyst explains that while the opportunity is huge, the challenges are many. He's also providing regular updates as key events occur, so be sure to claim a copy of this report now by clicking here.

Fool contributor Travis Hoium is short and manages an account that owns shares of Microsoft. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw. The Motley Fool owns shares of, Bank of America, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend and Microsoft. 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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10/20/2016 4:35 PM
^DJI $18162.35 Down -40.27 -0.22%
^GSPC $2141.34 Down -2.95 -0.14%
S&P 500 INDEX CAPS Rating: No stars
AMZN $810.32 Down -7.37 -0.90% CAPS Rating: ****
BAC $16.56 Up +0.09 +0.55%
Bank of America CAPS Rating: ****
CAT $86.63 Down -0.60 -0.69%
Caterpillar CAPS Rating: ***
MSFT $57.25 Down -0.28 -0.49%
Microsoft CAPS Rating: ****
WMT $68.73 Down -0.16 -0.23%
Wal-Mart Stores CAPS Rating: ***