The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) hit a major milestone yesterday when it finished the day five points up to mark the ninth straight session of gains. Though the index has barely skated by the breakeven mark for the past two days of trading, many believe the Dow is about to extend the streak to 10 days. As of noon, the Dow is up 59 points, or 0.41%. With the momentum behind it, the index may also be instilling greater confidence in the market as a whole, helping the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) come within 10 points of its 2007 high.
A little help
Good economic news today may be one of the the Dow's streak is set to continue. Jobless claims fell for the latest reported week, and as we see more and more decreases, it points to a firmer underlying labor market. The rolling four-week average of jobless claims fell to 346,750 -- the lowest level in five years.
The producer price index was bolstered once again by gas prices, as the February numbers showed a 0.7% increase compared with a 0.2% improvement in January. The gas price spike during the month created the largest jump in the PPI the economy has seen in five months, but the results stayed in line with analyst expectations.
Chevron (NYSE:CVX) may be getting a boost from this morning's PPI data: The gas company is up 1.5% so far today. The company is also benefiting from rival Exxon's prediction that American oil-production will increase 45% by 2040. Chevron has stated that it's on track to increase its production volume by 25% by 2017. Most American gas and oil companies continue to see improvements thanks to increased shale opportunities.
The twin frontrunners on the Dow today are Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) and IBM (NYSE:IBM), both up more than 1.5%. HP's continued struggle with its botched Autonomy deal has opened a new chapter, as the U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office has opened an investigation into the allegations that the British-based company willfully inflated its sales figures to boost its acquisition price. Despite the Autonomy mess, investors are still looking for HP to rally, with 5,000 calls bought late in yesterday's session signaling an expectation for the stock's price to rise to $23 by mid-April.
Big Blue has been all over the news lately, giving investors plenty of reasons to get excited. That excitement pushed IBM to its all-time high yesterday. The tech giant has been working with the city of Boston to improve systemwide initiatives like traffic, water management, and airport logistics. So far, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority has been able to use IBM's predictive software successfully and has cut down on its work orders by 38% by reducing unnecessary maintenance. IBM is also looking to expand its use of Watson, the supercomputer that won on Jeopardy! and has since helped doctors improve the speed and quality of care for cancer patients. Students were asked for ideas that Watson could tackle as its next job. Their answer: legal research.