Goldman Leads Dow Higher; Exxon Pulls It Lower

A disappointing ADP jobs report left the major indexes struggling today. At the bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) was down 35 points, or 0.22%, while the S&P 500 lost 0.01%. The Nasdaq managed to finish in the black, but just barely, up 0.14%.  

February's job figure of 139,000 came in below economists' expectations of 155,000, while January's original 175,000 number was revised down to 127,000. The markets didn't take kindly to the news, though the Dow itself was a mixed bag. Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) , gaining 1.88%, led the 12 components moving higher, while ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) , down 2.82%, was the worst of the 18 stocks that declined.

Goldman's move came on higher-than-normal volume of 4.45 million, compared with a three-month daily average of 3.1 million. The bump could have come in part from a recent Bloomberg rating indicating that the bank is a top merger-and-acquisition advisor. As companies find their growth slowing and look for new revenue streams, the market may be ripe for mergers, which would put Goldman in a good position. M&A advising also pays well, as Bloomberg estimated that Goldman made $1.23 billion in fees from such deals in 2013.  

Exxon's drop, meanwhile, comes after management told investors it expects flat production this year of around 4 million barrels of oil per day. In the long term, though, Exxon plans to cut low-margin wells, which will help profits in the long run and will reward investors with a long-term view. For more about this issue, click here.  

Outside the Dow, and helping the Nasdaq finish higher for the session, shares of Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) rose 4.03% after a Stifel analyst increased his price target from $72 to $82. The analyst said Facebook "continues to gain share of the overall marketing spend," which would bode well for the company and would ease concerns about whether Facebook's ads are working with customers.  

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