Wall Street often focuses on esoteric indicators that most people can't relate to at all. But once a month, the market turns its attention to something near and dear to everyone's hearts: employment. This morning's report showing that nonfarm payrolls rose by 146,000 jobs beat economists' expectations, as the unemployment rate inched down to 7.7%. A poor report on consumer confidence dampened the enthusiasm somewhat, but at 10:45 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) remained higher by about 34 points, even as the broader market sagged slightly.
Among Dow stocks, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) led the risers, up almost 2%. Reports citing bank executives say JPMorgan's investment bank may see its bonus pool fall by 2%. That may be bad news for workers there, but it's a much better result than the 10% drop some Citigroup (NYSE: C ) workers may see. With JPMorgan expanding in areas with strong growth potential, it could well continue to outperform many of its peers.
But on the downside, Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) fell nearly 1%. T-Mobile has made big waves in the industry in recent days, not only announcing a deal that could enable it to offer iPhones to its customers, but also saying it will stop subsidizing smartphones. The move may eventually lead Verizon to follow suit, but given how subsidies have done a great job of locking customers into long-term contracts that support the company's profits, the pricing adjustments that Verizon may have to make to its service plans could require a big adjustment in profit expectations.
Finally, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) also dropped by about 1%. Yesterday, the U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which advises the nation's state-run health care service on the cost-benefit analysis of drugs, gave a preliminary decision against Pfizer's Inlyta treatment for advanced kidney cancer. With a price of roughly $100 per 5-milligram tablet, Pfizer offered the health service a discount, but that failed to win regulators over. The move shows how gaining regulatory approval to sell a drug doesn't guarantee success if a company can't get reimbursement for it.
Are big banks riding high?
Big financial institutions are an important part of the Dow, but should they be in your portfolio? There's a big divide in the industry, with JPMorgan having recovered most of its lost ground from the 2008 bear market while others continue to languish. But is JPMorgan still a buy today? Find out by reading our premium research report on the company today. Click here now for instant access!