The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was slightly lower early on Thursday, falling nine points as of 11:30 a.m. EST. Dow component IBM (NYSE: IBM ) was beating the index, while two other tech stocks -- Pandora (NYSE: P ) and Oracle (NYSE: ORCL ) -- notched impressive gains.
Jobs data comes in weaker than expected
Weekly initial jobless claims came in worse than economists anticipated early Thursday, which may have somewhat dampened investor sentiment. The data from the Department of Labor indicated that 379,000 individuals filed for unemployment for the first time last week, higher than the 334,000 that economists had anticipated. In other words, the U.S. labor market may be weaker than generally believed.
However, it should be noted that the weekly number tends to fluctuate, and is generally regarded as not being nearly as significant as the monthly nonfarm payroll report.
Oracle turns in a solid quarter
Despite the weak market, Oracle shares surged more than 4% after the software giant reported a better-than-expected quarter. Oracle reported earnings of $0.69 per share, higher than the $0.67 analysts anticipated, on revenue of $9.3 billion, which was more than the $9.2 billion analysts were looking for.
In recent quarters, investors have become concerned that Oracle may be losing ground to cloud-based rivals. However, bookings for Oracle's cloud enterprise offerings were up 35% in the quarter, while Oralce's hardware business helped drive its results.
IBM buys file transfer company
IBM was up 0.66%. As the company also provides software to businesses, investors may have been projecting Oracle's positive results over to IBM.
IBM on Thursday announced that it had made a deal to acquire Aspera, which makes software to help companies move big data files across the Internet. Aspera's technology can be used to transfer a 24GB file from one side of the world to another in just 30 seconds; normally, it would take about 26 hours. While the acquisition shouldn't have an enormous impact on IBM, its business should benefit from selling Aspera's technology alongside its own products.
Pandora shares surge
Pandora was one of the biggest gainers on Thursday, at one point rallying more than 5%. There didn't seem to be any news to explain the move, but Pandora shareholders should be used to the volatility at this point.
Year to date, shares of the Internet radio service are up about 200%, but they have at times experienced massive swings. Emerging competitors have weighed on Pandora's investor sentiment: Most recently, the threat of a free Spotify on mobile devices has taken a toll on Pandora shares.
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