Dow Rises Ahead of Employment Report

Out with the old and in with the new. That could be today's motto for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) , which dropped precipitously yesterday on bad economic news and seems to be gaining on the opposite this morning. With less than two hours of trading under its belt, the index is up half a percent just after 11 a.m. EDT.

A helping hand
This morning's jobless claims and Challenger job cuts reports both provided some much-needed good news from the labor market. Jobless claims fell to a five-year low last week, as the number of new claims dropped to 324,000. Economists had expected an increase, but were surprised when both the weekly and four-week rolling numbers both fell. The Challenger report showed that announced layoffs were also down in April, with employers only cutting 38,121 positions in April. This is a 6% decrease from a year ago.

Coupled with yesterday's discouraging ADP report, which showed that small-business employers only hired 119,000 workers in April, the reports suggest that though the slowdown in economic recovery hasn't resulted in massive layoffs, employers are still hesitant to hire new workers. All eyes will be on tomorrow's non-farm-payroll report, with hope for good news.

Positive territory
With 20 of its 30 component stocks gaining this morning, the Dow is on the right track to soar higher today. Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) is leading the way, with a 1.54% gain so far in trading. With all eight airlines featuring the recently cleared 787 Dreamliner jets ready to resume passenger flights, the biggest public saga for Boeing looks to be behind it. Next up for the manufacturer is the development of an updated 777 jet. Approval from the company's board has already been given to begin marketing the newly titled 777x to customers. Later this year, the jet will likely be presented again to the board, after customer interest is demonstrated, for formal approval to begin development.

3M (NYSE: MMM  ) is also leading the winners, with a 1.34% rise this morning. Just a week after announcing a reduction in its 2013 earnings guidance, the multifaceted company is taking back some lost ground. 3M announced that it would be selling two subsidiaries to a private company, with the sale expected to close during this quarter. While there are numerous segments within 3M, the sale may be an opportunity for the company to refocus on some "core" operations that seemed to lag during the first quarter, giving investors some hope that a return in global demand may lift the manufacturer back to its previous earnings guidance.

Financials were mixed this morning, with Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) down 0.21% and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) up 0.09%. Bank of America is still one of the most highly traded stocks on the market, and since announcing disappointing earnings two weeks ago, the bank has lost some of the momentum it had been building up to that point. JPMorgan has also been plagued recently, with news two days ago that another top executive is leaving the company -- making that eight execs to leave within the past few years. Though the news may have caused some initial concerns over a succession plan for the CEO job, investors know that there is more to consider when evaluating the bank.

Bank of America's stock doubled in 2012. Is there more yet to come? With significant challenges still ahead, it's critical to have a solid understanding of this megabank before adding it to your portfolio. In The Motley Fool's premium research report on B of A, analysts Anand Chokkavelu, CFA, and Matt Koppenheffer, Financials bureau chief, lift the veil on the bank's operations, including detailing three reasons to buy and three reasons to sell. Click here now to claim your copy.


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