What's Causing the Dow to Climb?

The markets have welcomed November's arrival with a healthy gain. Despite lackluster earnings reports from two of its components, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) is up 144 points, or 1.1%, at roughly halfway through the trading day. The impetus for today's climb is tied to two economic reports issued today that beat expectations.

Good economic news
First, data from Automatic Data Processing showed that 158,000 new jobs were created last month, easily topping the consensus estimate of 143,000. In addition, weekly initial jobless claims from last week fell by 9,000 to 363,000, also coming in better than a predicted 375,000. The ADP report is often seen as a precursor for the government's official monthly jobs figures, due out tomorrow.

Second, an index from the Institute for Supply Management that tracks factory orders climbed unexpectedly to 51.7. This is the highest reading since May and easily beat economists' predictions for a reading of 51.

Bad earnings reports
On the earnings front, alternatively, the news wasn't as positive.

ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) beat on both the top and bottom lines. For the quarter, the oil giant recorded earnings per share of $2.09 on revenue of $115.71 billion. Analysts had expected EPS of $1.95 on revenue of $112.4 billion. Shares in the company are nevertheless down given its year-over-year performance. Thanks to lower oil and gas prices and falling production volume, earnings and revenue were down 1.9% and 7.7%, respectively.

Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) is set to report its third-quarter earnings on Friday.

Meanwhile, sales at pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) fell off a cliff -- a patent cliff, to be more precise. Revenue from the company's lucrative cholesterol-fighting drug Lipitor declined a staggering 71% as its patent protection in the United States expired last year. Overall, the company reported earnings per share of $0.43, down from $0.48 last year.

According to Pfizer's chairman and chief executive officer, Ian Read: "Overall, our results this quarter reflect continued product losses of exclusivity, most notably Lipitor in all major markets." Shares in the company are down 1.45% in intraday trading.

The Foolish bottom line
Given the ups and downs of the market, particularly in the face of uncertainty in Europe and the continued economic malaise here at home, it's comforting to have a handful of stable, dividend-paying companies to anchor your portfolio. To learn about three such stocks that fit this description, check out our popular free report on three Dow stocks every investor needs. You can download this report instantly simply by clicking here.

John Maxfield has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of ExxonMobil. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Chevron. 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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