With No Real Stimulus, the Dow Moves Slightly Higher

On a day when the big economic driver is the Department of Labor's monthly jobs report, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is just slightly higher. Many investors, economist, politicians, and Average Joes read about the monthly jobs reports, or even the weekly jobless claims, on a regular basis. But we need to remember that 100,000 new jobs is a mere drop in the bucket when we're talking about an economy with more than 140 million workers. Whatever next week's or next month's figures look like, investors need to put the jobs market in context and look for trends -- not monthly moves.

My Fool Colleague John Maxfield cited a graph showing the change in payroll jobs over the past few years, and it does a great job of putting the current unemployment problem in picture form. Click here to check it out.

As of 12:55 p.m. EST, the Dow is up 0.14% to 13,410 points, and only nine of its 30 components are trading in the red. Three of the biggest losers are part of the personal-computer industry.

As more consumers shift to mobile computing through smartphones and tablets, the personal computer gets less and less attention, and sales of desktop computers have suffered. This has caused the industry much heartache over the past year. Analyst downgrades and new reports of reduced product shipment and demand have battered the stock prices of the industry leaders. And today is no different.

Research firm Gartner is now forecasting a weak PC market moving forward. The firm's data showed that in the December quarter, units shipped declined by 5.5% on a year-over-year basis, while it was expected that the industry would see 7.7% growth. Today, shares of PC manufacturer Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) and PC chip maker Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) are down 0.15% and 1%, respectively.

Fellow Dow computing company Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) ranks among the day's top losers, having dropped 1.3%. While the PC market news is also affecting the software company, another report released today by a JPMorgan analyst, John DiFucci, is adding negative pressure to the stock. DiFucci lowered his sales forecast and earning-per-share estimate on Big Softy. His previous sales forecast of $21.4 billion was reduced to $21 billion, and the company's EPS estimate was cut from $0.72 to $0.68.

More foolish insight
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 be sure to claim a copy of this report now by clicking here.


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