U.S stocks continued their rise today, amid both positive and negative reports. The Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) had an overall stellar day, closing up 0.87%. The Nasdaq also closed in the positive, up 0.69% after the monster day it had yesterday with the fanfare from Apple's quarterly earnings release.

Weekly employment figures came out today, missing analyst forecasts. The number of jobless claims was expected to be 375,000 but came in at 388,000, causing some concern as it could be conveyed as a slowdown in the recovery of the labor market.

However, the National Association of Realtors came through with good news that the number of contracts to buy homes increased. Pending home sales rose to nearly a two-year high in March, creating optimism not only in the stock market but also exerting a little upward pressure on the oil markets, pushing them to their one-week highs.

Still, the deciding factor in today's markets was the excitement and optimism investors have gained with the continued success of earnings season.

Overall, the Dow performed pretty well, but of course we still have our laggards, so let's jump right in and see who held the group back today.

ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM): down 0.90%
The energy behemoth was the worst Dow component performer today, decreasing because of a negative earnings report. Exxon has a about a 50/50 split between oil and natural gas production, and with unsustainable natural gas prices, a blowout quarter was highly unlikely. The company reported an 11% earnings decline, and its exploration and production income dropped 10% from the same quarter last year.

The other major energy company on the Dow, Chevron (NYSE: CVX), had an excellent day. A day before its own earnings report comes out, Chevron gave itself great momentum by closing up 2.28%.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT): down 0.28%
The Redmond tech giant has steadily been declining this past week, after reporting earnings last Thursday. At the same time, rumors abound that Microsoft may be turning up its interest in new types of media, offering TV and music packages as well as a replacement for the Zune -- all efforts that could help counter plays from rivals like Apple and Facebook.

Boeing (NYSE: BA): down 0.12%
Here we have yet another company that posted exceptional earnings, leading to increasing gains, and quickly goes through a slight correction once the ballyhoo is over. The company announced its intended purchase of Inmedius, an information-management company.

We have one company that was discounted because of missed earnings and a short-term outlook change, and two other companies that are going through minor adjustments after experiencing two great price run-ups in the wake of smashing their earnings estimates. Will any of them be among the top stocks for 2012? Our analysts have picked five investments that all investors need to be familiar with. The report is free for a limited time -- don't let 2012 slip by without cashing in on these great stocks! 

Joel South owns shares of Apple and ExxonMobil. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Chevron, Apple, and ExxonMobil and creating bull call spread positions in Apple and Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.