The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is down after a decent new unemployment claims report couldn't staunch the three-day sell-off. As of 1:25 p.m. EDT the Dow is down 83 points, or 0.55%, to 14,878. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) is down 0.33% to 1,604.
There was just one U.S. economic release today: the weekly new unemployment claims report. New unemployment claims came to 346,000. That's 11,000 claims below last week's 357,000 and in line with analyst expectations of 345,000. The less volatile four-week moving average rose by 4,500 to 352,500.
After averaging 370,000 last year, new unemployment claims have been slowly trending downward -- a positive for the economy. Hiring, however, has been in a rut so far this year. The economy added just 165,000 jobs in April. Yesterday's private-sector jobs report from ADP disappointed, pushing Dow stocks down. Economists expect a similarly underwhelming jobs report for May, which the government reports tomorrow.
Today's Dow leader
Today's Dow leader is Home Depot (NYSE:HD), up 2%. Home Depot has been gaining on the strength of the recovering housing market, which has seen both home prices and activity on the rise. Rising home prices are good for the economy, as many homeowners are still underwater on their mortgages, restricting their ability to move to where opportunities are. Investors have taken notice of the recovering housing market and have bid up many related stocks, but some opportunities still remain.
Second for the Dow today is Verizon (NYSE:VZ), up 2.3% after the Guardian published documents showing that the NSA is collecting all phone records of Verizon customers. While some are outraged, many have been warning about this for some time, and the public hasn't taken notice. According to Reuters, Attorney General Eric Holder said members of Congress were fully aware of the program, while Senator Dianne Feinstein told CNN, "As far as I know, this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years."
Investors are ignoring the news today, bidding Verizon up along with the telecom sector and other traditionally defensive sectors including utilities and health care stocks. Investors are attracted to Verizon's strong position in the U.S. wireless market, as well as its 4.2% dividend yield.
Dan Dzombak can be found on Twitter @DanDzombak or on his Facebook page, DanDzombak.He has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Home Depot. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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