Blue-chip stocks are broadly higher today on the heels of better-than-expected weekly jobs figures and the European Central Bank's decision to cut its benchmark interest rate. With roughly an hour left in the trading session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is up by 128 points, or 0.87%.
A government report released this morning suggests that the labor market is continuing to improve. According to the Department of Labor, the number of applications for unemployment benefits fell last week to a five-year low. While economists had predicted that the number of people applying for benefits would come in at 345,000, the actual figure ended up being 324,000.
Next up are the employment figures for the month of April, which are set to be released tomorrow. Bloomberg News estimates that tomorrow's report will show U.S. employment staying at 7.6% while payrolls rose 145,000. By comparison, they rose only 88,000 in March.
Also adding to today's market optimism was the European Central Bank's decision to cut its benchmark interest rate to a new low of 0.5%. As The Wall Street Journal observed, the move comes after ECB President Mario Draghi had previously intimated that the bank was "basically done" with easing. He even went so far today as to rule out the possibility that the rate could be brought all the way down to 0%.
On the individual-stock front, shares of Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) are trading higher after the chip maker announced that it found a replacement for outgoing CEO Paul Otellini. The new CEO will be the company's current COO Brian Krzanich, who follows the same path Otellini took to the corner office. After the pending vacancy was announced at the end of last year, many analysts thought the company would bring in new blood to fill the post and help shake up the chip giant, which has been suffering from the sharp downturn in personal-computer sales. This move shows that the company will keep it in-house.
Also headed higher, though only marginally so, are shares of Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) . The company said it's considering reducing smelting capacity by up to 11%. Prices for aluminum have plummeted over the last two years, hurting both top and bottom lines throughout the industry. One of its biggest competitors, Rusal, has already said it plans to do the same thing.
And finally, shares of social-networking giant Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ) are up more than 5.5% following the company's earnings release after the bell yesterday. The biggest news was that Facebook's mobile-advertising revenue is gaining momentum. According to Reuters, it now accounts for 30% of Facebook's ad revenue, compared with 23% at the same time last year.
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