The Tech Sector Makes Waves on the Dow

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The tech sector is making waves on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) today, and although one tech giant is dropping through the floor, the blue-chip index is in the green following multiple positive reports on the economy. As of 1:30 p.m. EDT the Dow is up 0.37%, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is up 0.69%.

There were three U.S. economic releases today.

Report

Period

Result

Previous

Weekly jobless claims

Aug. 10 to Aug. 17

336,000

323,000

Markit "flash" manufacturing PMI

August

53.9

53.7

Leading Economic Indicators

July

0.6%

0%

Weekly jobless claims rose by 13,000 to 336,000, worse than analyst expectations of 330,000 but still near the lowest level in five years. The less volatile 4-week moving average fell by 2,250 to 330,500, its lowest level in over 5 years.

US 4-Week Moving Average of Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Chart

US 4-Week Moving Average of Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance data by YCharts.

Unemployment claims are trending well below last year's average of 360,000 to 370,000. While that's a good sign, companies will need to significantly ramp up their hiring in order to put a dent in the unemployment rate. Today's second economic release was Markit's flash Purchasing Managers' Index, which showed that business conditions in the manufacturing sector improved at a faster rate in August than in July.

Source: Markit.

The third economic release was the Conference Board's latest Leading Economic Indicators index, which increased by 0.6% to 96. Ken Goldstein, an economist for the Conference Board, said: "The improvement in the LEI, and pick up in the six month growth rate, suggest better economic and job growth in the second half of 2013. However, the biggest uncertainties remain the pace of business spending and the impact of slower global growth on U.S. exports."

The growth in the LEI was led by the growth of the spread between the 10-year Treasury and the federal funds rate. When the spread widens, banks earn more through lending, as they can borrow at short-term rates and lend at long-term rates.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) is leading the Dow upward, gaining 2.2%. That makes Microsoft the top Dow stock for the third day in a row. Today the reason is an analyst upgrade from Nomura Securities from "neutral" to "buy." While the analyst panned the company's fundamentals, he believes the stock could do well if Microsoft engages with activist investor ValueAct Capital, which has taken a stake.

On the other side of the Dow today is Hewlett-Packard, down 12% after reporting earnings that missed analyst expectations and lowering its guidance for the year.

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