This morning, payroll processing company ADP released its jobs data for March, and although the report of 191,000 new positions fell a little short of economists' prediction of 193,000, it was close enough to keep investors happy today -- especially after ADP reported only 139,000 new jobs in February. The jobs number helped give investors the confidence to push the major indexes higher today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) ended the session up 40 points, or 0.24%, while the S&P 500 was higher by 0.29% and the Nasdaq was up 0.2%.
Within the Dow, shares of AT&T (NYSE:T) rose 0.8% this afternoon. The move comes as the company said it will hire more than 3,000 retail employees in the coming months as demand in stores is increasing. Investors love hearing that a company needs more employees to meet customer demand, as it usually indicates higher sales and profits should be coming down the road. Furthermore, with more than 243,000 employees currently, the additional 3,000 is just a drop in the bucket and shouldn't make a huge difference from a cost basis.
A big market winner today was Kroger (NYSE:KR), as shares rose 3.76%. Kroger's QueVision system earned the No. 3 ranking in the InformationWeek Elite 100's list of top business technology innovations, and it's not very often we hear of a boring grocery store winning a top technology innovation award. QueVision has allowed the company to cut customer checkout times from 4 minutes to 30 seconds, using infrared sensors to help store managers predict times when the checkout lines will be busy so that the registers can be properly manned. A better shopping experience may just be what helps Kroger's stock get to the next level.
Another food-related stock making a move today was Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN), but this one fell 4.63% as shares trade just below all-time highs. According to the USDA, corn crops are shrinking, and weak corn production could increase input costs for the company, as corn is one of the main ingredients used to feed the company's livestock. Investors shouldn't panic, though, because typically higher costs can be passed on to the customer. But those who own the stock will want to keep an eye on margins in the coming quarters.
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