Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



Painfully Slow Jobs Growth Drags Down the Dow

Watch stocks you care about

The single, easiest way to keep track of all the stocks that matter...

Your own personalized stock watchlist!

It's a 100% FREE Motley Fool service...

Click Here Now

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  ) continues its trek lower this week. The Dow has shed 40 points as of 2:15 p.m. EST, with its biggest movers diving into the red after jobs data disappointed investors with a fresh round of economic concern. Among top blue-chip stocks, Chevron's (NYSE: CVX  ) taking a big hit after announcing a worrying trend for its fourth-quarter production, while Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE  ) among the Dow's leading laggards in the health care sector. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

One very bad jobs report
The jobs reported blindsided investors today with severely unexpected bad news, as payrolls added just 74,000 new jobs in December. That wasn't just the worst monthly mark for 2013: It marked the slowest increase in jobs for one month since January 2011, adding new speculation that the economy's rise is still sorting out bumps in the road. Economists had expected that more than 190,000 jobs would be added to the economy in December.

As a lone bright spot, the U.S. unemployment rate did fall to 6.7%, the first time it had declined below 7% in five years. That's not due to job gains, however -- it's because nearly 350,000 Americans gave up looking for jobs and dropped out of the labor force in December. While the economy did add a total of 2.2 million jobs in 2013 -- roughly what 2012 produced, a strong number -- the U.S. economy's growth needs a lot higher job growth than December's meek number.

Chevron's not inspiring much confidence in investors today, either, as the Big Oil stock is down 2% to lead all Dow laggards. The company announced today that its fourth-quarter net profit will stand roughly on par with the third-quarter profit mark of $5 billion after Chevron's gas and oil production fell. The company's 2.56 million barrels of crude oil produced during October and November is a 3.9% year-over-year drop, following weakening demand that has hit production across several of the company's competitors as well.

Falling demand has affected Chevron's finances in a bad way lately, as the company's revenue fell by 4.7% and its earnings per share also declined over the first nine months of 2013. While analysts are optimistic about a return to production growth in 2014, investors have to hope oil prices make a comeback for the majors in the new year.

Pfizer stock is down around 1% after Cowen downgraded the Big Pharma from outperform to market perform. While Pfizer has had a strong 15.5% run-up over the past year, there's no reason to panic just yet about this company's ability to perform in the new year. The worst of the patent cliff is over for Pfizer, after plunging revenue to former top-selling drug Lipitor slammed sales last year. Expect those losses to ease in the new year, while up-and-coming drugs such as Xeljanz and Eliquis, which struggled to gain much traction last year, should start to garner momentum in 2014.

How you can make money despite economic uncertainty
Despite job losses today, stocks like Pfizer have soared since the recession. Still, millions of Americans have waited on the sidelines since the market meltdown in 2008 and 2009, too scared to invest and put their money at further risk. Yet those who've stayed out of the market have missed out on huge gains and put their financial futures in jeopardy. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal finance experts show you why investing is so important and what you need to do to get started. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2791134, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/2/2015 5:45:14 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Dan Carroll

Dan began writing for the Motley Fool in 2012. He is a health care specialist who also follows the defense industry along with tracking the broader U.S. and international markets.

Today's Market

updated Moments ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,351.38 293.03 1.82%
S&P 500 1,948.86 35.01 1.83%
NASD 4,749.98 113.87 2.46%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

9/2/2015 4:36 PM
^DJI $16351.38 Up +293.03 +1.82%
CVX $78.06 Down -0.13 -0.17%
Chevron CAPS Rating: ****
PFE $31.97 Up +0.61 +1.95%
Pfizer CAPS Rating: ****