Very strong figures on the employment front helped vault the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) upward in what could become the average's fourth straight day of setting new all-time record highs. For a long time, high unemployment has been tempering enthusiasm over other promising economic data, but with February's unemployment figure falling to its lowest level since late 2008, investors are feeling increasingly secure about the potential for a stronger recovery to take hold. As of 1 p.m. EST, the Dow is up 37 points, or 0.26%
But not all of the Dow's stocks are rising. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) is the biggest loser in the average, falling 1.5% despite having passed the Federal Reserve's latest round of stress tests. Investors are anxiously awaiting news of whether B of A will finally start to return capital to shareholders, either through a higher dividend or with share buybacks. Rival Citigroup (NYSE: C ) announced a buyback, sending the bank's stock up more than 2%, and B of A could well follow suit if it makes a similar announcement.
Outside the Dow, Sequenom (NASDAQ: SQNM ) sank 6.7% after releasing its fourth-quarter earnings report. The maker of the MaterniT21 Down syndrome test posted a larger-than-expected loss, although higher test sales led to better revenue than analysts were looking for. The key looking forward, though, is for Sequenom to get health insurance companies on board with reimbursing medical professionals for using the company's tests.
Finally, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ) dropped 2.5%. The company changed its news feed in an effort to push user engagement back upward after recent declines. Although you can always count on users to complain when Facebook and other popular websites change their looks, Facebook's goal is to make the site attractive to the subset of users who will drive the company's monetization efforts, and we'll have to wait and see whether the redesign accomplishes that goal.
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