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.
After starting the day on a bad note, the major indexes pulled it together to finish today's trading session for the most part on a high note. Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) didn't make it back to it's high of the day at 16,487, it closed at 16,437, down just 7.71 points, or 0.05%, which was much better than its low for the session at 16,379. But both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq finished right outside their highs of the day, and in the black. The S&P closed at 1,842, up 4.24 points, or 0.23%, while the Nasdaq finished at 4,174, up 18 points, or .044%.
The mixed trading session was the result of a much weaker-than-expected jobs report from the Labor Department, which reported that just 74,000 jobs had been created in December, much lower than the expected 200,000 positions economists had been expecting. And while headline news indicated that the national unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 7%, the underlying reason was that the labor force participation rate also fell from 63% to 62.8%, indicating that a lot of Americans who are unemployed stopped looking for jobs during the final month of 2013.
This news indicates that the American economy may not be as strong as some had expected, which is bad for business, but likely means that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates low for longer than some had previously expected.
Within the Dow, both Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) had strong performances today despite the jobs report, as shares rose 1.44% and 0.87%, respectively. The moves came after independent market research firms IDC and Gartner both released promising results for worldwide fourth-quarter PC sales. IDC estimated that 82.2 million units were sold, while Gartner believes 82.6 million PCs sold during the last three months of 2013. While these figures still indicate a 7% decline from what sold a year ago, the firms believe major markets are now bottoming out.
The rise of tablet computers have hurt PC sales over the past few years. This resulted in seven straight quarters during which the PC market declined. However, considering that analysts expected a much larger decline than the 7% reported, investors are seeing this as good news, and a sign that the contract is slowing -- even though the market may not see positive growth in the near term.
Another big winner within the Dow was Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), which gained 1.01%. It's unclear exactly why the stock rallied today as there was only what can be seen as negative news for Coke shareholders today. The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would be getting involved with a case that Coke is involved in. Back in 2008, POM Wonderful and Coke disputed the labeling of a beverage that Coke was offering. POM Wonderful claimed that Coke's Minute Maid unit was misleading consumers with its "Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of 5 Juices," because it called the product a 100% juice drink. POM claims that the drink is 99% apple or grape juice, and is misleading to customers. The court case involves two federal trademark laws and the regulation of nutrition information on product labeling. In the lower court, Coke won the case and, thus, the Supreme Court justices will be reviewing that ruling. This is certainly not what I would call a catalyst for the stock, as Coke already won the case in the lower court, and it's hard to see anything positive for Coke coming from the case now.
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