Dow Soars to Record on Jobs Data

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 Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) shot up to another record today, climbing 168 points, or 1.1%, as the October jobs report was much better than expected. The Department of Labor reported that 204,000 nonfarm jobs were added last month, way ahead of estimates of just 100,000. September's total was revised up 15,000, to 163,000, and the unemployment rate ticked up 0.1%, to 7.3%, but that seemed to be mostly due to a skewed effect from the government shutdown. The numbers seem to confirm other bullish signs that we've seen -- in manufacturing reports and the Q3 GDP -- that the economy is getting significantly better. This was also a good sign for investors. The market reacted positively to the news instead of selling off on the assumption that it would convince the Fed to begin its taper, though stocks initially opened flat.

Shares of The Gap (NYSE: GPS  ) soared 10%, making it the best performer on the S&P 500 today as October comparable sales were much better than expected, coming in at 4% against expectations of 0.1% The clothing retailer also lifted EPS expectations for the third quarter to $0.70-$0.71, which was better than the analyst consensus at $0.66. With more than $15 billion in sales, the Gap is a major player in retail, and the news seems to bode well for the upcoming holiday season, despite concerns voiced by other companies, and slow retail reports elsewhere.

Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN  ) shares were also shining today, gaining 6% after posting strong third-quarter numbers. Revenue from North America grew 24%, and active customers grew 10% year over year, to 43.4 million. The business seems to be successfully transitioning away from its original dally deals model over to one more oriented toward long-term deals through its smartphone app. Revenue in the quarter grew just 5%, to $595.1 million, below estimates of 615.7 million, while the company posted an adjusted EPS profit of $0.02, $0.01 better than the consensus. Despite the gain in share price, the coupon merchant still seems suspect, as growth has slowed severely, and it still hasn't made a real profit.

Finally, priceline.com (NASDAQ: PCLN  ) shares also moved higher, finishing up 5% after beating estimates in its quarterly report. The online travel merchant posted a per-share profit of $17.30, ahead of the consensus at $16.15, on 33% sales growth, to $2.27 billion, due in part to its acquisition of Kayak. The company also announced it would split the chairman and CEO roles, and named Darren Hutson as its new CEO. Hutson had previously led Booking.com, which is Priceline's largest business and the biggest hotel reservation website in the world. With smart acquisitions and a clever strategy, Priceline continues to assert its leadership of the online travel industry.

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