It's jobs report Friday, and the Department of Labor has reported that the U.S. economy added 162,000 jobs in July and the unemployment rate fell to 7.4%. That's not a fabulous growth rate, and it won't bring a quick economic recovery, but it also isn't all that surprising. Economists were expecting 180,000 jobs to be added, so the report is well within the margin of error and is approximately in line with the past two years.
Stock markets didn't have much of a reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is down a meaningless two points late in trading, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) isn't moving any further. However, the 10-year Treasury Note yield fell 10 basis points to 3.69% on speculation that weak jobs numbers will keep the Fed's stimulus in place.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is the big winner on the Dow today, jumping 2.9%. There were early reports that Carl Icahn had taken a stake in the company, but CNBC is now reporting that he doesn't own shares in the company. In related news, Dell (UNKNOWN:DELL.DL) appears close to a buyout offer that increases the offer price to $13.75 per share, including a $0.13 special dividend and an $0.08 dividend for the third quarter.
The battle over Dell is an incremental positive for HP because it keeps the competitor distracted while HP attempts its turnaround. But the bottom line is that both companies are in a declining PC market, and I wouldn't expect growth to pick up anytime soon.
The other big mover is Chevron (NYSE:CVX), which has fallen 1.6% following a disappointing earnings report. Net income dropped 26% in the second quarter versus the prior-year period, and revenue was down 8%. The company blamed lower oil prices and falling margins in the refining business for its struggles. In the long term, Big Oil will continue to struggle because consumer demand isn't increasing and it's becoming harder and more expensive to find oil. Both factors will put pressure on oil companies, and we could see profit continue to decline as the world looks to alternative energy sources for a growing portion of demand.