The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI), along with markets around the world, has taken its cue from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' highly anticipated Employment Situation Summary report, released earlier this morning. The report showed that 169,000 jobs were added in August, while economists had expected 180,000 additions. Furthermore, July's estimate was reduced by 74,000 positions and the labor participation rate dropped to its lowest level in 35 years.
Perversely, U.S. markets are set to rise on the news as traders hope it will delay the Federal Reserve's drawdown of its monetary stimulus program. Stock index futures as of 8 a.m. EDT suggest that the Dow will rise 75 points at the opening bell.
Dividend-paying stocks will be in focus as 10-year Treasury yields make a break for the 3% mark. AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ), each yielding close to 5%, have fallen about 7% over the last month as their dividends become less attractive compared to ultra-safe Treasuries. These two telecoms could see more selling pressure today if interest rates swing higher. Verizon has another reason to be sensitive to long-term rates: It's planning to issue a record $25 billion in bonds next week. AT&T could be considering its own expensive acquisitions -- perhaps of Telecom Italia, Reuters reported yesterday.
Ford (NYSE: F) could also see active trading today after reports surfaced suggesting that CEO Alan Mulally may step down a bit earlier than planned. According to Reuters, Ford's board of directors is open to the idea of Mulally leaving to explore other "high-profile" jobs. Current COO Mark Fields is expected to take over the top spot when Mulally decides to move on. The good news for investors is that Ford's board seems to be focused on the right things. In considering succession plans, it aims to strengthen the cultural and strategic changes that Mulally put in place to drive Ford's dramatic recovery over the last six years.
Finally, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) may attract some buyers after it caught an analyst upgrade this morning. SunTrust thinks that new product launches, like video ads in feeds and graph search, could send revenue up over the next few years. I agree, but I don't see how that translates into the $55 price target that SunTrust gave the stock. Shares are up 1.1% before the bell.
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