After a sharp sell-off over the past two days, stocks rebounded today as investors bought the momentum names that had fallen off in recent weeks. As a result, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) finished the day up just 10 points or 0.1%, while the S&P 500 gained 0.4% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 0.8%.
Investors were encouraged by the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the Labor Department, which showed job openings at a six-year high. The figure hit 4.17 million in February, above January's total of 3.87 million and at its highest level since January 2008. In 2007, before the recession, the number of job openings were close to 5 million a month. Considering the report is on a one-month lag, it is not as closely watched as the monthly jobs report, but the numbers nonetheless show the jobs market continuing to improve, especially promising coming at a time when bad weather was thought to be weighing on businesses.
After hours today, Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) unofficially kicked off earnings season, moving up 2.6% after beating estimates and showing progress in its turnaround. The aluminum-maker posted an adjusted per-share profit of $0.09, ahead of estimates of $0.05. After years of slow growth and low prices in the industry, Alcoa said it expected global demand for aluminum to increase 7% in 2014 because of demand for commercial aircraft. For the quarter past, Alcoa saw revenue fall 6.5% to $5.45 billion, below estimates of $5.55 billion. Still, the bottom line was strong. CEO Klaus Kleinfeld noted "record downstream profitability" as well as improved results in its midstream and upstream business.
Also moving higher today was Vipshop Holdings (NYSE: VIPS ) , which finished 11% higher after getting an upgrade from Credit Suisse. The Swiss bank lifted its rating on the Chinese online retailer to outperform, saying that cosmetics and baby products should drive growth in 2014. Vipshop shares have been flying over the past year, gaining more than 400% on the strength of flash sales models. The stock is dearly priced, but the company is putting up triple-digit sales growth and has beaten earnings estimates in its last four quarterly reports. With a track record like that, it's easy to see how shares could continue to move higher.
Finally, Nike (NYSE: NKE ) shares got a boost today, finishing up 3% on an upgrade from Stifel, which lifted its rating to buy. The upgrade was largely valuation-based as the stock had fallen more than 10% since reporting earnings three weeks. The analyst firm said the sneaker king's fundamentals remain solid, despite disappointing guidance in the report, and said its long-term prospects look strong.
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