Despite yesterday's minor losses, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is on pace to end its first week of 2013 with impressive gains. After Wednesday's surge, today the Dow has recorded gains of 30 points, or 0.2%, as of 2:10 p.m. EST. Most stocks on the index are in the green, with several seeing gains of more than 1% -- but don't tell the tech sector, which has been unable to gain traction today and is keeping the Dow from rising even further.
A steady economy keeps the gains coming
While it's not quite like the budget deal that spurred the week's earlier gains, today's job report didn't disappoint Wall Street. According to the Department of Labor, the U.S. economy added 155,000 jobs in December, which lines up almost exactly with the average monthly job growth (153,000) of the last two years. That's not enough to make much of a dent in America's 7.8% unemployment rate -- nor to speed up recovery by any meaningful amount -- but slow and steady keeps the economy on pace.
A brighter economic outlook has kept industrial stocks surging -- in particular, aluminum manufacturer Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) . The stock, buoyed by the Congressional budget deal, has seen shares rise more than 7% over the last five days alone for a blowout start to the year. Alcoa will release its fourth-quarter results on Jan. 8, kicking off earnings season and giving an idea of just how much the fiscal-cliff fight affected the Dow's companies.
The financial sector has also managed to keep its momentum going, with JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM ) , Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , and American Express (NYSE: AXP ) all in the green. JPMorgan leads, with shares gaining 1%. The economic optimism this week has fueled the entire financial sector to higher gains, with many other bank stocks also in the green.
Tech, however, is weighing the Dow down considerably. Shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) are leading all Dow laggards with losses of 1.4%. Research firm NPD Group reported that sales of notebooks powered by Microsoft software fell 11% during the holiday season -- not the kind of endorsement Microsoft was looking for with the relatively tame launches of Windows 8 and the Surface tablet.
It's been a frustrating path for Microsoft investors, who have watched the company fail to capitalize on the incredible growth in mobile over the past decade. However, with the release of its own tablet, along with 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 make sure to claim a copy of this report now by clicking here.