These Stocks Are Rallying Against a Dull Dow

As of 1:25 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is up 11 points -- less than a hundredth of a percent -- to 13,046. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is also essentially flat, up 0.13%.

This morning the Department of Labor announced that new unemployment claims fell 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 370,000. That's slightly below analyst expectations of 375,000. The four-week average is an unusually 408,000 high as new unemployment claims hit 451,000 the week after Not-Quite-a-Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast.

US Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Chart

US Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance data by YCharts.

This is the second piece of good jobs news this week. Yesterday ADP reported that the U.S. added 118,000 jobs in November -- less than October's 157,000 jobs but in line with analyst estimates. The market is waiting for tomorrow's official Department of Labor monthly jobs report, which comes out tomorrow.

Investors continue to be fixated on the fiscal cliff, and with no news about the negotiations, it's no surprise that the market is relatively unchanged. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) and technology stocks are leading the market higher today after a downbeat report on Apple from IDC caused the sector to slump yesterday. These two technology stocks are leading the Dow's performance today.

Today's Dow leaders
Today's Dow leader is Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) , up 1.5% to $20.15. Intel has had a tough year. The stock is down 16% year to date thanks to the declining PC market. The stock was further punished last month when the company announced that its CEO of eight years, Paul Otellini, will step down in May, two years before he reaches Intel's mandatory retirement age of 65. There's a lot to like about the company, however -- particularly its history of returning cash to shareholders through buybacks and dividends. The stock faces some challenges, but with a 4.6% dividend, Intel is too cheap for investors to ignore.

Second for the day is Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO  ) , up 1.2% to $19.45. The networking company has had a banner year after a poor 2011; the stock's 7% rise and 40% dividend increase so far this year reflect that. Cisco made news last week when it announced that it is buying network solutions company Cariden Technologies for $141 million. Cariden makes capacity-planning and management tools for IP/MPLS networks used by telecom companies. This is Cisco's third acquisition in November and 10th acquisition for 2012. Fool analyst Tim Beyers recently spelled out the key areas Cisco investors need to watch. Click here for his take.

The future of Intel
When it comes to dominating markets, it doesn't get much better than Intel's position in the PC microprocessor arena. However, that market is maturing, and Intel will find itself in a precarious long-term situation longer term if it doesn't find new avenues for growth. In this premium research report on Intel, our analyst runs through all of the key topics investors should understand about the chip giant. Better yet, you'll continue to receive updates for an entire year. Click here now to learn more.

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Intel CAPS Rating: ****