A day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) fell more than 100 points on jobs concerns, the blue chips bounced right back on a different jobs report, today gaining 131 points, or 0.9%. Investors reacted to news that last week's toll of initial unemployment claims came in at just 324,000, the lowest single-week total since 2007. Continuing unemployment claims also fell to nearly 3 million, another encouraging sign. The all-important Department of Labor jobs numbers will come out tomorrow morning with an addition of 155,000 jobs expected in April.
Strong earnings reports from companies including General Motors, Facebook, and AIG also helped push stocks higher today, as well as the European Central Bank's decision to drop its benchmark rate 25 basis points, to 0.5%, which came a day after the Federal Reserve said it would keep its current stimulus program in place.
Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) shares were up 0.5% today as the struggling chip maker named Brian Krzanich, a longtime executive with the company, as its new CEO. The move is a reversal from Intel's initial claims that it would bring in a new head from outside the company, as it seeks to reignite falling sales. Some analysts were disappointed at the message the choice sends, having hoped for a new direction from the company. Krzanich will assume the position on May 16 as Paul Otellini steps down.
Oil stocks moved up strongly today, as prices for the energy commodity jumped more than 3%, lifting ExxonMobil and Chevron up more than 1%.
Only two Dow stocks finished in the red today. One was United Health (NYSE: UNH ) , which fell 0.4% as investors continue to fear the effects of Obamacare on the health insurance industry. Insurance providers have been reluctant to enter marketplace exchanges in states where they are not already doing business, and the state exchanges are scheduled to go into effect on October 1. The recalcitrance seems to only encourage concerns that the new health-care law will spell trouble for the insurers.
Finally, outside the Dow, LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD ) shares were off 10% after hours today as the company provided a disappointing outlook in its quarterly report. The professional social network said revenue in the current quarter would be 3.5%-5% below expectations, as mobile ad income is not growing as fast as hoped. Revenue in the previous quarter grew 72%, to $324.7 million, and adjusted EPS of $0.45 easily eclipsed estimates at $0.31.
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