Just days after a reading of private-sector employment disappointed, causing markets to reel, today's figures from the Department of Labor boosted sentiment on Wall Street. Nonfarm payrolls rose 175,000 in May, up from gains of about 150,000 the month before. Investors seem to think the improvement mediocre enough to keep the Fed from tapering its stimulus and just good enough to not fear for the economy's health. Friday's jobs report was enough to send the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) 207 points, or 1.4%, higher, to close out the week at 15,248.
Flying high atop the Dow was Boeing (NYSE:BA), which added 2.7% today as the company continues to recover from its Dreamliner nightmare earlier this year. After serious safety concerns prompted international groundings of Dreamliner 787 models, the company has since fixed the engine issue and the models are back in the air. With Rolls-Royce signing on to provide the engines for 50 Boeing planes going to Singapore Air, shareholders cheered the emphasis on quality in new orders.
Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) shares were also highfliers on Friday, tacking on 2.7%. The House of Mouse hiked entrance fees at a number of its theme parks just days ago, and with Friday's jobs report showing continued strength in hiring, it looks like more Americans will be able to afford to spend money they should probably be saving.
Only four blue chips closed in the red on Friday. Both of the day's worst performers pay handsome dividends to investors. Merck (NYSE:MRK), for instance, which lost 0.8% today, dishes out 3.7% a year to shareholders. There's nothing wrong with rewarding investors with healthy quarterly payouts, but on days as bullish as today was, the market can sometimes get fixated on the immediate lure of capital gains over the steady cash sought by the patient long-term income investor.
AT&T (NYSE:T), which shells out a 5.1% annual dividend, shed 1% today. The revelation that dominated newswires yesterday -- that the U.S. government is secretly collecting phone and Internet usage data on millions of Americans -- may be sinking in for investors in the wireless provider. Though in fact rival Verizon was the company explicitly cited in The Guardian's expository report, the extremely secretive nature of the data collection may have some shareholders concerned about potential customer pushback should AT&T also turn out to be providing usage information.
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