Major benchmarks performed well on Friday morning, getting a lift from positive news on the U.S. employment front. The economy added 128,000 new jobs in October, with big jumps in the leisure and hospitality industry, as well as in education and health services. That gave investors more confidence in the strength of the broader economy. As of 11 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 254 points to 27,301. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) rose 24 points to 3,062, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) was higher by 74 points to 8,366.
Earnings season continued to produce financial reports from more companies, and ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) added its take on the energy sector Friday morning. But first, Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) decided to make a modest but high-profile acquisition, agreeing to buy wearable device manufacturer Fitbit (NYSE:FIT).
Alphabet lays down the gauntlet on wearables
Shares of Alphabet picked up a fraction of a percent Friday morning after the tech giant announced that its Google subsidiary would buy Fitbit. Shares of the wearable fitness tracker manufacturer soared 15% in response.
Under the terms of the agreement, Fitbit shareholders will receive $7.35 per share in cash for their stock. That prices the deal at around $2.1 billion. For Fitbit, the agreement represents a way forward and an opportunity to reach a much larger audience. As CEO and co-founder James Park put it, "With Google's resources and global platform, Fitbit will be able to accelerate innovation in the wearables category."
For Google, a $2.1 billion deal isn't all that high a price to pay for the opportunity to move aggressively to challenge big-tech rivals in the wearables space. Taking advantage of the partnerships that Fitbit has sought with major health insurance companies could help Google build market share more quickly than it would otherwise be able to do.
Yet skeptics wonder whether it's too late for Google to compete effectively in wearables. With established brands from much-loved providers, it'll take the full might of Alphabet's resources to ensure that the company can take an approach toward the industry that's most likely to lead to success in the long run.
ExxonMobil hangs on
Meanwhile, shares of ExxonMobil picked up 2%. Investors liked what they saw in the energy giant's third-quarter financial report, even though the numbers still reflected the big headwinds that oil and natural gas companies face.
ExxonMobil's key financial numbers looked weak on their face. Revenue dropped 15% from year-ago levels, and net income got cut almost in half year over year. Yet most investors paid close attention to the company's upstream production numbers, which included an encouraging 70% increase from ExxonMobil's assets in the Permian Basin. Largely because of those successes, the oil giant's bottom line actually held up better than many had feared.
Yet the problems that ExxonMobil faces could last longer than anticipated. Despite efforts from other oil-producing countries to limit production in an attempt to control supply, falling demand due to weak global economic conditions still threatens to leave the market with more oil than it needs next year. That outlook has played a key role in holding back crude prices worldwide.
Success in the Permian and in other oil-rich shale plays has been crucial for many energy companies, but ExxonMobil must constantly search for its next big find. Investors have confidence today, but it'd be easier to get excited about the stock if oil and natural gas prices would bounce higher.