Stocks posted modest gains to finish the week, as Wall Street applauded Friday's nonfarm payrolls numbers from the Labor Department. February's nonfarm payroll job gains of 175,000 exceeded the 150,000 consensus estimate, though the unemployment rate edged slightly higher, to 6.7%. While it's great to see some jobs growth, the labor market still isn't what you'd call "robust," and many jobs are still part-time: the average American employee works 34.2 hours. Taking February's numbers with a grain of salt, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) added 30 points, or 0.2%, to end at 16,452.
Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) stock finished as the biggest loser in the Dow today, down 1.4%. The decline didn't come on any major developments with the entertainment giant; in fact, the only developments with Disney recently have been largely positive. Yesterday, the company signed a deal with a Chinese media company, creating a new, collaborative way of melding Chinese themes into Disney movies. China has a 34-film maximum for the number of Hollywood movies it allows into the country each year, and Disney would like to improve the chances its films have of making the selective cut.
Shares of Chinese social networking company Renren (NYSE:RENN), however, weren't the best testament to China's desirability today, shedding 5.8% in trading. Renren's stock is an opportunity long-term investors should approach with caution: it's not profitable, its operations are severely restricted by high regulation, and it's a social network. Social networks, as a whole, have yet to prove their long-term viability, and there's absolutely no track record for small-cap Chinese social networks like this one. Also, there's been some suspect trading in Renren this week -- the NYSE contacted the company about its seemingly unprovoked 22% surge on Wednesday, with Renren simply stating that the company didn't comment on strange trading activities.
Lastly, a company with very little to do with China: Best Buy (NYSE:BBY). The stock added 1.4% today as it bounced back from a four-day losing streak. Best Buy may turn out to be a rare breed of retailer: one that can successfully decrease its store count and reliance on brick-and-mortar sales with the success of its online operations filling the void. The company proved that concept with its most recent quarter, in which online sales jumped 20% despite declining same-store sales. It would be nice to retain the best of both the online and physical worlds, but by gracefully accepting its new path, Best Buy is doing itself and shareholders a favor.
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