Stock markets rallied higher today after the Labor Department said that new unemployment claims fell 16,000, to 339,000 last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.60%) has rallied 0.45%, and the S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.95%) is up 0.65%.
IBM's (IBM 0.44%) 1.5% move higher is having a large impact on the Dow's move because it's the highest price stock in a price-weighted index. CEO Virginia Rometty sent out a company-wide memo saying that the company needs to move faster and respond more quickly to customers. IBM issued a disappointing earnings report last week, and Rometty is trying to get the company's financial fortunes back on track. It'll take a few quarters to find out if she's successful.
Verizon (VZ 1.10%) is up 2.2% after Reuters reported a potential $100 billion bid to buy the 45% of Verizon Wireless it doesn't already own. Vodafone is willing to sell its stake in Verizon Wireless if the price is right, and this is the latest rumor in a long tango between the two. I don't think $100 billion will get a deal done but it could be the start of serious negotiations. A buyout would be good for both companies, although I'm betting on the seller, who has all the leverage in this negotiation.
3M (MMM 0.03%) is the one Dow stock moving significantly lower today, falling 2.5% after it released earnings. Sales only grew 2% at 3M, and profit rose slightly to $1.61 per share, both below estimates. The company gets more than 70% of sales from overseas and foreign currency translation, and that's a major headwind for the company right now.