More than 308,000 American workers saw pink in February, and not just because of Valentine's Day.

Unemployment rose to 5.8% last month, according to the Labor Department, as employers slashed the highest number of jobs in 15 months. Check the state-by-state breakout to see how your neck of the woods stacks up.

Economists said the report could spur another interest-rate cut by the Federal Reserve when it meets March 18.

U.S. stock prices sunk on today's news, but rose by market close. The Dow closed up almost 1%, the Nasdaq flat, and the S&P 500 up nearly 1%.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Chips Down at Intel

When the chips are down, Intel(Nasdaq: INTC) always feels the pain.

Last night, the world's leading chip maker revealed it would miss first-quarter projections. Slammed by an inventory glut in its flash memory products due to poorly received price hikes, the company now expects revenue for the March quarter to come in between $6.6 billion and $6.8 billion. It had earlier forecasted revenue to come in as high as $7 billion.

Margins will also take a hit, with gross margins dipping below the 50% mark. Nostalgic Intel fans may recall when the company produced gross margins in the 62% range just two years ago, but the sector's been in a rut since then.

Microprocessors are cyclical, and this has been a painful drought for the industry and its popular bellwether. Intel's stock has been halved over the past year, and that comes on the heels of being cut in half over the previous year and a half. However, rival Advanced Micro Devices'(NYSE: AMD) stock has fared worse. As has its business.

There's some comfort in knowing that the bulk of the miss is related to Intel's communications-related products rather than its bread-and-butter computer microprocessors. In other words, the company's not broken.

Discussion Board of the Day: Intel

Does Intel really tease analysts by managing expectations? Can strength in box makers like Dell(Nasdaq: DELL) spell a recovery later this year? Whatever became of all of those "Intel Inside" commercials? All this and more -- in the Intel Discussion Board. Only on

eBay Trims Half will soon shrink to nothing, but don't think it was a half-baked idea. After paying about $241 million for it in 2000, eBay(Nasdaq: EBAY) says it will shut down Half by the end of next year, fully integrating its features into its own site.

Half, which allows users to easily sell books, videos, and music in a fixed-price format, had grown to be the fourth most-visited consumer commerce site on the Internet by the time of purchase. With the deal, eBay was taking direct aim at's(Nasdaq: AMZN) fixed-price e-tail dominance.

But much as Amazon's foray into auctions did little to harm eBay, Amazon has continued to grow and flourish, despite its rival's efforts. It introduced a feature, for example, that alerts potential buyers to cheaper, used versions of an item.

This is not a case of eBay abandoning a cause or getting nothing for its purchase. One of the reasons for closing down Half is the success of books, videos, and music on eBay itself. Plus, the fixed-price format now accounts for almost a quarter of its overall sales. Josh Kopelman, who will be departing as Half's head in April, told The Wall Street Journal, "Right now, when someone wants to sell a book, it's hard to tell them whether to sell it on eBay or Half." Management hopes this move will alleviate that confusion without losing sellers.

This is not to say some aspects of Half haven't been disappointing. Attempts to move into sales of electronics, computers, toys, and other goods produced mediocre results. Why split efforts between two sites when eBay itself offers ways to sell such items in either an auction or fixed-price format?

The company continues to evolve by trying new things, keeping what works, and shedding what doesn't. While the name may disappear, Half's heart lives on and its purchase made eBay a better business.

Quote of Note

"I have interests, not hobbies. Hobbies cost money. Interests are free." -- George Carlin, comedian

Co-Mingling Your Money

First comes love... then comes marriage (or shacking up or otherwise sealing your commitment)... then comes a host of money issues....

Should we combine our checking accounts? Why is his retirement savings so paltry? Which one of us is going to input our receipts into Quicken? You spent how much for that?

And if navigating the uncertainties of a relationship weren't hard enough, introduce a bunch of financial issues and your bond gets sideswiped by eye-rolling and resentment.

There are no clear-cut rules in love -- no orange pylons directing you safely through every turn. No hazard lights warn you of pending risks and missteps of the heart.

There are some pretty hard-and-fast rules in finances, though:

Rule No. 1: When you run out of checks, your Visa bill will be due the next day.

Rule No. 2: Just when you get it together to set financial priorities and line up the funds, boom! The water heater goes, or a plus sign appears on the EPT wand.

Rule No. 3: Your coupled friends, family, neighbors, and J. Lo are dealing with the same exact stuff.

Money issues continue to be the No. 1 cause of divorce in the United States. The good news is that if you can find ways to successfully navigate this issue, your relationship has that much more of a chance of succeeding.

To help you and your Sig-O handle the choppy road of romance and money, we've just introduced a guide book, appropriately titled Couples & Cash: How to Handle Money With Your Honey.

And to read more, check out the rest of our Special on this subject.

Shameless Plug: Sources for Stock Ideas

Everybody's looking for stock ideas -- well, OK, maybe not everybody -- but where to start? First and foremost, begin with a source you can trust. But get a good deal, too. Right now, when you subscribe to our monthly gem The Motley Fool Select, you'll also get our annual compendium Stocks 2003 for free -- bundled together like twins on a cold winter's walk in the park. It's a classic combo no Fool will want to be without.

Quick Takes

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) settled Federal Trade Commission charges that it illegally kept cheaper versions of anti-anxiety drug BuSpar and cancer drugs Taxol and Platinol off the market. Under terms of the settlement, Bristol-Myers can't fend off generic drug competition by filing for additional patents for a period of 10 years. The company can still file patent infringement suits, however. Bristol-Myers said in a statement that the settlement won't have an adverse impact on it financially or affect its intellectual property protection.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) shareholders are a little bit richer today. The software giant paid out its first-ever dividend of $0.08 a share. For some shareholders, that adds up to some serious cash. Bill Gates, for example, made $96.5 million from the dividends today, and CEO Steve Ballmer pocketed $37.7 million.

Toy soldiers aren't usually controversial, but in these times of tough talk with Iraq, some retailers are concerned. Walgreens(NYSE: WAG) will yank all pre-wrapped Easter baskets that include the perennial little boys' toy. Wal-Mart(NYSE: WMT), on the other hand, will still sell three different baskets that include the toy soldiers as a show of support for our military. Kmart, which also sells the baskets, says it's gotten a few complaints, but as of now, doesn't intend to pull them off the shelves.

The French finally caught a break today. Kosuke Shiramizu, the Japanese exec in charge of Toyota's(NYSE: TM) global production, said the company's plant workers in France are 20% more efficient than those in North America. And McDonald's(NYSE: MCD) President Charlie Bell told analysts French McDonald's restaurants could serve as a model for faltering American ones. With at least five weeks of vacation per year and a max of 35-hour workweeks, maybe the French know how to do it right. However, a Gallup poll suggests the results are an anomaly. It found that 26% of French employees are disgruntled, and only 6% consider themselves happily productive, or "engaged." By contrast, workers in America are 30% engaged and 16% disgruntled.

And Finally...

Today on

  • For updated stories throughout the day, bookmark our ever-changing News section.
  • Rex Moore says investors aren't paying as much for growth as they have on a historical basis.
  • Mathew Emmert provides some potent stocks with frothy dividends.
  • Embattled banker Frank Quattrone isn't caving yet under NASD charges.
  • Disney Whirl: Rick Munarriz says that, with the tenuous relationships between Disney and its corporate sponsors and filmmaking partners, it's not just disgruntled investors walking out on the company.
  • Eight steps to reduce the chance of a visit from the IRS, in our Tax Center.
  • In Fool's School, what's a warrant on Wall Street?

Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Mathew Emmert, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim