14,000: Why the Dow Gained 150 Points Today

The bulls were out in force on Wall Street Friday, impressed by positive trends in the labor market. Not only did payrolls rise by 157,000 in January, but November's payroll gains were revised more than 50% higher, from 161,000, to 247,000. That's quite the upwards revision, and you can't blame investors for sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) to multi-year highs, as it soared 149 points, or 1.08%, to 14,009. 

As one of the more volatile stocks in the index, shares of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) rocketed 3.4% higher, on the strong macroeconomic news. Positively trending employment figures mean a strengthening economy, and a strengthening economy is rarely bad for lenders, i.e. massive banks like BofA. While the financial leader hasn't kept up with the blistering-hot performance the stock saw in 2012 when it was the top gainer in the Dow, it's still trading higher on the year.

While one may be the loneliest number, Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) shares sure didn't find much solace in being one of the two blue chip decliners today. Its 3.3% stumble made the pharmaceutical giant the worst performer in the index by a long shot. The company's earnings report wasn't terrible today, but it wasn't great, either. Its conservative guidance, combined with new generic competition against its cash cow allergy drug Singulair, painted a bleak outlook for Merck on a good day for corporate America. 

Small cap telecom Tellabs (NASDAQ: TLAB  ) was -- putting it mildly -- another disappointment Friday, falling 7.7%, to a nearly 20-year low. Again, weak forecasts were to blame. The fact that Tellabs is also discontinuing one of its router products, and trimming 300 of the company's 2,600 jobs, wasn't taken in a positive light, either. 

Another tech company you may have heard of, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) , traded moderately lower today, despite the fact that it passed Samsung for the first time as the market share leader in America for mobile devices. Investors weren't pleased enough with a nearly 40% jump in U.S. mobile phone sales in the fourth quarter; Apple now controls more than a third of the domestic market. 

There's no doubt that Apple is at the center of technology's largest revolution ever, and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded with over 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and more importantly, your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.


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