Stocks have slipped from earlier gains on the day, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) down nearly five points as of 2:30 and eying a downbeat ending for the week. The blue-chip index's stocks are split fairly evenly between risers and laggards, with a couple breakevens for spicing. Nike (NYSE:NKE) is making the most of the day, gaining 1.5% to lead the Dow's corps of risers, while Disney (NYSE:DIS) slipped to the bottom of the average in losing 1.4%. Let's catch up on what you need to know.
Jobs kick higher despite the growing unemployment rate
Economic data kicked things off on a high note to start the day, as the U.S. Labor Department's jobs report impressed Wall Street. America added 175,000 nonfarm jobs last month, a strong gain considering the weakness seen in December and January's jobs reports and the poor weather that has hindered many economic markers so far in 2014. While job growth has slowed lately, another good sign reared its head in February: More people entered the labor force, kicking the unemployment rate from 6.6% to 6.7% but showing that Americans slowly are gaining confidence about the economy and job market's direction.
Nike's popped after CEO Mark Parker expressed optimism about the company's business in China. In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, Parker projected a new wave of growth to come from the world's second-largest economy, which is also Nike's second-largest market by individual countries. Nike has managed decent growth in China over the past six months, where revenue has gained about 3.7%, but compared to the strong gains the company has picked up in its larger North American and Western European operating segments, investors hope the athletics giant can pick up the pace across the Pacific.
Disney has taken a bit of a hit today, weighing down the Dow after the company's video game and digital business Disney Interactive laid off about 700 workers, or roughly a quarter of its workforce. The business hasn't been one of Disney's stronger performers, losing $87 million last year and shedding money for years before that. Disney is turning toward licensing out game development to other companies in the future, although the entertainment giant still plans on developing a lesser number of social and mobile games itself -- a plan it hopes can turn the division around. Considering that the games division is only a small piece of Disney's growing portfolio of businesses, however, it's not an earth-shaking restructuring in place for the entertainment giant.
Outside of the Dow, big biotech stock Regeneron's (NASDAQ:REGN) has lost about 7.6% today. Today's fall comes more as a correction than off of big news: Regeneron's stock has shot up by more than 95% over the past year as investors have rallied behind star drug Eylea, which has already managed to generate more than $1.8 billion in annual sales. With Regeneron looking to expand its indications for Eylea and generate more revenue from the blockbuster drug, it seems like this big biotech stock has more room to run: Don't fret too much about today's dip.
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Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Nike and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Nike and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.