After a crazy week that included a massive storm which shut down the stock exchanges, an impressive post-storm rally, and a slew of economic reports and blue chip earnings releases, you'd be excused for scratching your head at the current direction of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI). Roughly halfway through the trading day, the index is down by 46 points, or 0.35%.
Data released this morning showed that domestic jobs growth accelerated last month, though the unemployment rate ticked up. According to the Labor Department, nonfarm payrolls improved by a seasonally adjusted 171,000 jobs in October. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had anticipated an advance of 125,000. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate increased slightly to 7.9%, as more Americans entered the labor force.
Given the political season, it should be no surprise that the opposing candidates had conflicting interpretations of these figures. According to The Wall Street Journal, Mitt Romney said that: "Today's increase in the unemployment rate is a sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill. The jobless rate is higher than it was when President Obama took office, and there are still 23 million Americans struggling for work."
Alternatively, a spokesman for President Obama noted that the report "provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression."
In other news, shares in Dow component Chevron (NYSE:CVX) are down today after the company reported its third-quarter earnings earlier this morning. The oil giant missed estimates on both the top and bottom lines. For the quarter, Chevron earned $2.69 a share on $58 billion in revenue. Analysts had predicted earnings of $2.83 a share on revenue of $63.9 billion. Moreover, like ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), which reported yesterday, both figures represented significant declines on a year-over-year basis.
Finally, with the election less than one week away, there are already predictions that a resolution will lead to a broad rally in the stock market. JPMorgan Chase's (NYSE:JPM) famed investment banker Jimmy Lee was quoted by Bloomberg as predicting this, particularly if the election is followed by progress on the fiscal cliff. If so, banks like Lee's will undoubtedly be beneficiaries, as institutions such as Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) are trading at some of the lowest valuations in the market today.