These 2 Stocks Are Driving the Dow Higher

Following some better-than-expected reports on the U.S. economy, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) is up 1:15 p.m. EDT the Dow was up 81 points to 15,078. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is up 0.66% to 1,623.

There were four U.S. economic releases today.





New enemployment claims

June 1 to June 8



Retail sales




Retail sales ex-autos




Import price index




Business inventories




Across the board, today's economic releases either met or exceeded analyst expectations. The key figure here is the weekly unemployment claims report. Seasonally adjusted unemployment claims fell 12,000 to 334,000 -- far lower than analyst expectations of 350,000. The four-week moving average fell by 7,250 to 345,250.

US Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Chart

US Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance data by YCharts.

Last year unemployment claims averaged between 360,000 and 370,000. The important thing to note is that unemployment claims have been steadily sinking this year, signaling an improving jobs market in the U.S.

Today's Dow leader
Today's Dow leader is Intel, (NASDAQ: INTC  ) up 1.4%. The chip maker scored a win earlier this week when Samsung announced that Intel will provide the chips for its Galaxy Tab 3. Intel has historically focused on chips for servers and PCs. It has been forced to play catch-up in the mobile market as Qualcomm has taken a hefty lead. Intel was one of many companies banking on a refresh cycle driven by Windows 8. That hasn't been the case yet. In fact, Windows 8 is said to have contributed to the first quarter's drop in PC sales -- the worst drop in PC sales ever. It will be interesting to see whether Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) update to Windows 8 changes people's perceptions. If so, Intel will be in a prime position to benefit.

When it comes to dominating markets, it doesn't get much better than Intel's position in the PC microprocessor arena. However, that market is maturing, and Intel must find new avenues for growth. In this premium research report on Intel, a Motley Fool analyst runs through all of the key topics investors should understand about the chip giant. Click here now to learn more.

Also among the Dow's winners today is AT&T (NYSE: T  ) , up 1.4%. AT&T has been pursuing new offers to try to win over customers from Verizon and T Mobile USA, including a deal to trade in older smartphones for a discount on the iPhone 5. AT&T needs the offers, as Verizon has been doing well in adding new customers. Investors have noticed the disparity in performance between the two, and some are betting that AT&T's stock will falter. Currently, 1.5% of all shares of AT&T are sold short.

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Intel CAPS Rating: ****
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AT and T CAPS Rating: ****