Obviously, no market ever rises forever. But for the fourth straight day, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) are pushing into record territory, this time responding to much-stronger-than-expected gains in employment. A jump of 236,000 jobs in nonfarm payrolls caused the unemployment rate to fall to 7.7%, its lowest level in more than four years. Job gains were broad across various industries, pointing to general strength but leading some economists to point out that gains this big were commonplace in past expansions. By 10:55 a.m. EST, the Dow had given back a big part of its earlier gains but was still up 28 points, while the broader market was also up modestly.
Among Dow stocks, McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) was one of the best performers, climbing about 1.5% despite seeing global same-store sales drop 1.5%. Despite hopes that new products like its Fish McBites would help boost revenue, comps fell throughout its Europe, U.S., and Asia-Pacific regions, although sales were positive in China. Looking forward, McDonald's needs to execute well on its expansion plans in order to get sales moving in the right direction.
Sticking with the Golden Arches theme, Latin-American McDonald's franchisee Arcos Dorados (NYSE:ARCO) saw its shares fall 0.4% after announcing its quarterly earnings despite opening higher on apparent strength in its results. Despite a slight drop in net income, Arcos Dorados managed to post comparable-sales growth of 8.6% during the fourth quarter, even though weakness in the Brazilian economy has weighed on the company's performance in its biggest market. Guidance for 2013 was even more optimistic: Arcos Dorados expects a potential economic rebound to allow double-digit sales growth and further market-share expansion. With new stores also coming, Arcos Dorados appears to have its growth story still intact despite investors' uncertainty.
Finally, Pandora (NYSE:P) soared 16.4% following a favorable earnings report. A 54% jump in revenue wasn't enough to make Pandora profitable, but with an 8.5% share of radio listeners, the service is clearly gaining traction among users. Further, news that CEO Joe Kennedy is leaving the company may signal a new phase in Pandora's growth as the key to the company's future changes from innovation to better execution of its existing strategy.