If the rest of 2013 follows this week's lead, we'll all be able to retire at the end of the year. To cap off a week in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) shot up by more than 400 points, the blue-chip index is easing investors into the weekend with a marginal gain of 20 points, or 0.15%, with roughly an hour left in the trading session.
The big news today concerned the December job figures. According to the Department of Labor, the domestic economy created an estimated 155,000 new jobs last month, leaving the unemployment rate at 7.8%. While both figures came up short of economists' estimates, they're nevertheless indicative of a slow and steady march forward.
Also out today were estimates of factory orders in November. According to the Department of Commerce, new orders for manufactured goods rose marginally to $477.6 billion from October's $477.2 billion. As my colleague Justin Loiseau noted, "These newest numbers reverse immediate hopes of a positive trend." That being said, there remains a lot of noise in the figures left over from Hurricane Sandy, which battered the Northeast at the end of October and the beginning of November.
With respect to individual stocks, the Dow's most prominent financial components, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , are both trading higher after minutes from the Fed's most recent FOMC meeting were released yesterday. The notes showed a higher-than-expected level of resistance to continuing the current policy of easing long-term rates past this year. In the event the Fed abandons the policy, long-term rates will increase and thereby widen the interest rate spreads that banks rely on to make money.
Heading lower, alternatively, are a bevy of the Dow's technology stocks, led by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) and Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) . As everyone and their mother now knows, fear that the personal computer is dying is currently permeating the market, bringing down the biggest names in the technology sector. It's largely for this reason that Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) and Intel were the Dow's worst-performing stocks in 2012.
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