The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is practically dancing a jig this morning, gaining 110 points within 90 minutes of the market's opening. The index really took off shortly after 10 a.m. EDT, following two anxiously awaited government reports, both of which had been postponed due to the government shutdown earlier this month.
The Department of Labor's jobs report for September seems to be a crowd pleaser, showing a drop in the national unemployment rate from the previous month's 7.3% to 7.2%. The rate dip came even as the number of jobs created, at 148,000, fell well below the expected 180,000. Markets applauded anyway, possibly because the results are seen as reflecting an economy that is not yet strong enough to withstand a tapering of the Federal Reserve's current bond-purchasing program.
One bright spot in the employment data concerns construction, which added 20,000 jobs in September, after being stuck in a rut for the past six months. This tidbit segued nicely with the Census Bureau's report on construction spending, which showed a 0.6% increase in August over July's adjusted numbers. This may also be giving markets a boost, as the belated hiring may signal confidence in the housing rebound.
Financials (mostly) up
Huge property and casualty insurer Travelers (NYSE: TRV ) is up today, following a third-quarter earnings report that may not have dazzled, but did not disappoint, either. Despite flat earnings from one year ago, the company managed to bump up earnings per share to $2.30 from last year's $2.21 through its share repurchase program. Though low interest rates continued to depress the insurer's investment income, lower catastrophe losses and higher underwriting margins helped boost the company's operating income to $883 million compared to the year-ago quarter's $867 million.
Beleaguered JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) has taken a turn for the worse by late morning, after looking pretty perky earlier. The bank's record-setting $13 billion settlement with U.S. regulators still has tongues wagging, and some analysts expect that the enormous fine may make banks less likely to extend credit -- not great for the economy, or banks' coffers. JPMorgan Chase investors will be able to take comfort from the opinion that, despite the huge fine, the bank will likely escape any criminal charges.
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