Dow Heads Higher Despite Disappointing Jobs Report

Blue-chip stocks have regained their momentum today despite news that more Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week than economists had expected. With roughly an hour left in the trading session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is up by 43 points, or 0.3%.

According to the Department of Labor, the number of applicants for jobless benefits increased by 16,000 last week compared to the previous week. The advance figure for the seven days ended March 23 was 357,000 -- the highest level since mid-February and above the consensus forecast by 18,000 claims.

Analysts are nevertheless cautioning against reading too much into these figures, given the week-to-week volatility inherent in the estimate. As one analyst quoted by observed, "It would take more readings in this neighborhood to point to a modest pick in layoffs." He went on to say that "the claims data continue to signal a slowing in the rate of job layoffs in the first quarter of 2013."

In addition to this, new data from the Department of Commerce suggests that the economy expanded in the final three months of last year at a faster pace than originally estimated. In its first release of fourth-quarter GDP growth at the end of January, the government said the economy actually contracted by 0.1% due to dramatic cuts in military spending. This figure was revised upward last month to a positive 0.1%. And today, that figure was revised up once again to 0.4%.

As the official press release explained, "The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the 'second' estimate issued last month."

Despite the disappointing jobs figures, however, stocks are broadly higher as we enter the final hour of trading. At the time of writing, only nine of the Dow's 30 component stocks are trading lower.

Leading the way higher are shares of United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) , the industrial conglomerate that makes everything from Otis elevators to Sikorsky helicopters. As my colleague Dan Carroll noted earlier, the company recently sold an electrical power systems unit that it had acquired from Goodrich. The deal was worth an estimated $400 million and "was the second divestment of a Goodrich unit since [United Technologies] purchased the company for more than $16 billion last year."

Heading Dow shares lower, alternatively, is JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) , the nation's largest bank by assets. Earlier today, The Wall Street Journal reported that a longtime JPMorgan veteran is leaving the company. The news comes on the heels of a string of troubles for the lending giant related to massive trading losses and even its purported role in the Bernie Madoff case.

With big finance firms still trading at deep discounts to their historical norms, investors everywhere are wondering if this is the new normal or if finance stocks are a screaming buy today. The answer depends on the company, so to help you figure out whether JPMorgan is a buy today, I invite you to read our premium research report on the company today. Click here now for instant access!

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2337146, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/29/2016 9:50:59 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 35 minutes ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,143.45 -195.79 -1.07%
S&P 500 2,151.13 -20.24 -0.93%
NASD 5,269.15 -49.39 -0.93%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

9/29/2016 4:35 PM
^DJI $18143.45 Down -195.79 -1.07%
JPM $65.65 Down -1.06 -1.59%
JPMorgan Chase CAPS Rating: ****
UTX $101.06 Down -1.29 -1.26%
United Technologie… CAPS Rating: ****