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.
Stocks headed into Turkey Day on a high note, setting yet another record on some strong economic data as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) finished the day up 25 points, or 0.15%. The jobs market continued to show signs of improvement, as last week's initial unemployment claims fell to to 316,000, down from 326,000 the week before, and below estimates of 330,000 as layoffs appear to be easing nationwide. The recent declines in new jobless claims bode well for the November jobs report, due out next Friday. A second consecutive strong jobs tally would be a welcome sign of economic improvement, but it could also persuade the Federal Reserve to begin the stimulus taper sooner than expected.
Elsewhere, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index showed a rating of 63.0, well ahead of estimates at 58.0, showing a robust expansion in manufacturing activity in the Midwest. The Michigan consumer sentiment report also improved from 72.0 to 75.1.
McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) was the worst performer on the Dow today, falling 1.2% as the company went ex-dividend, meaning that shareholders as of the market's close yesterday will receive a piece of its juicy 3.3% yielding dividend. However, that doesn't explain all of the stock's decline today. Rival Burger King Worldwide (UNKNOWN:BKW.DL) also announced a plan to expand into France. Signing a partnership with Groupe Olivier Bertrand, Burger King said it aims to take 20% of all fast-food sales in the eurozone's second-biggest economy. Europe is McDonald's biggest market, and if Burger King is successful, the competitor chain could expand further on the continent, threatening McDonald's empire. Burger King has already begun franchising in a number of new foreign markets including Brazil, India, and China.
A day after falling 6% on a poor earnings report, Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) shares bounced back today, finishing up 8% after the retailer announced some bold Black Friday discounts. Among other moves, the bookstore chain is offering the Nook Simple Touch, its Kindle competitor, for just $39. It's also offering its "lowest price ever" on other tablets as well as deals on e-books and gift card promotions. While the market clearly cheered the promotions, the move seems to smack of desperation after Barnes & Noble reported a sharp sales decline in its Nook division in yesterday's report. The sales may help in the short run, but long-term it's not a real solution for the faltering retailer.
Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Burger King Worldwide and McDonald's and owns shares of McDonald's. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.