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Stocks moved marginally higher today on mixed economic news. Jobless claims rose by 28,000 to 385,000 last week, which was higher than expected, but the reading had some quirks related to the Easter holiday and spring break. The Department of Labor adjusts numbers for seasonal swings, but holidays can throw off those adjustments, so the labor market may not be as bad as this week's reading indicates. So far, markets have shrugged off the data: The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is up 0.22%, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) has gained 0.23% ahead of more important jobs numbers tomorrow.
AT&T (NYSE: T ) is up 1.5% after Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ) said its new "Home" smartphone interface will be available exclusively on the wireless network. Facebook is attempting to make its services just as easy to operate on Android phones as Google's. Considering Facebook's popularity, this could be a big seller, but it's too early to tell right now. I'm not sure that AT&T's exclusivity is enough to make consumers switch from other carriers -- or that the exclusivity will even last long.
McDonald's is up 1.4% today, crossing the $100 mark, despite protests against the company in New York City today. Workers at fast-food chains are protesting low wages, and McDonald's is a big target to go after when you want to make a point. As an investor, I'd look more closely at the stock's juicy 3.1% dividend and incredible brand as an appetizing investment in an uncertain environment.
After making investors rich in 2011, McDonald's was one of the worst-performing blue-chip stocks of 2012. Our top analyst on the company will tell you whether you should be worried by this trend, and he'll shed light on whether McDonald's is a buy at today's prices. Click here now to read our premium research report on the company.
IBM (NYSE: IBM ) is one of few Dow components moving lower today, losing 0.8%. The company's endless back-and-forth with Oracle over the performance of newly launched servers continues, and IBM has shot back at recent claims that Oracle still made faster and cheaper servers. The rivalry between the two is fierce, and investors just don't know who will take share at this point. Testing claims are one thing, but the real winner will be determined based on the income statements of these two companies over the next few quarters, so keep an eye on IBM's gain or loss of server market share.