Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) stock is leading the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) upward after an analyst upgraded the stock. Also pushing up the stock market today is the Department of Labor's better-than-expected unemployment claims report. As of 1:25 p.m. EDT the Dow was up 51 points, or 0.33%, to 15,522. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) is up 0.45% to 1,699.
New unemployment claims rose by 5,000 to 330,000 last week, beating analyst expectations of a steeper climb to 339,000. The less volatile four-week moving average of unemployment claims fell by 6,250 to 335,500. That's the lowest level for the four-week moving average since November 2007.
Last year the rate of unemployment claims averaged between 360,000 and 370,000 per week, so fewer people are applying for unemployment benefits, signaling growth in the employment market.
Today's Dow leader
For the second day in a row the Dow's leader is Microsoft, up 2.9%. Microsoft was yesterday's top Dow stock after news broke that the company had received an order for 30,000 Surface tablets from Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance. Microsoft needs good news for its Surface division after taking a $900 million writedown on the Surface in its last earnings report. That writedown and generally weak results sent the stock down from its high of $35.
Today, Evercore upgraded Microsoft stock from "equal weight" to "overweight" and boosted its price target from $35 to $38. Evercore believes that Microsoft's enterprise segment will continue to do well and that investor sentiment on PCs is overly negative. The firm also pointed out that the involvement of an activist investor, ValueAct Capital, should help the stock.