At the halfway point of the trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
There were two economic releases from the U.S. Department of Labor today in its Employment Situation report for August, and each proved negative for stocks. The first announcement was that total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 96,000 jobs in August. This is down from the 141,000 jobs added in July and below analysts' expectations of 125,000 jobs.
The second economic release was the unemployment rate, which fell to a seasonally adjusted 8.1%. On the surface, that's better than last month's 8.3%, which analysts expected to be this month's result. However, the seemingly better unemployment rate is actually bad news, as it was the result of 368,000 people dropping out of the labor market -- not the result of large numbers of jobs being filled.
While the reports by themselves are negative for stocks, investors believe this raises the chance that the Federal Reserve will undertake some form of economic stimulus. While the Dow is largely unchanged, many stocks are up, and a few are surging upward.
Today's Dow leaders
Today's Dow leader is Bank of America
The reason the bank is up today is the hope of a stimulus by the Federal Reserve, which would be a boon for the big banks. The big banks have been doing well: The FDIC recently released its Quarterly Banking Profile, which showed continued improvement in bank finances.
Bank of America was the third-best-performing Dow stock in August. With yesterday's and today's big jumps, Bank of America may be one of September's top three as well. Fool analyst John Maxfield recently took an in-depth look at Bank of America. Click here to read his take.
Second behind Bank of America is Caterpillar
Caterpillar has been chugging along lately, and last month it announced that its global equipment sales were up 14% in the three-month rolling period ending in July. That's up from May's and June's rate of 11%. Asia and North America were strongest, with 25%-plus growth, while Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa all showed small declines. Fool analyst Neha Chamaria believes Caterpillar is worth a look.
Alcoa has had a rough few years as the economy has slowed, pushing commodity prices down. Aluminum prices have fallen 30% since April 2011, leaving Alcoa shares in a slump. If China's economy continues to slow, things could get worse for Alcoa. Despite the negatives surrounding Alcoa, Fool analyst Sean Williams still believes the aluminum giant will outperform the market. Click here to read his analysis.
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Dan Dzombak can be found on his Facebook page. He owns shares of Bank of America. Click here and like his Facebook page to follow his investing articles. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not 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.