Four on the floor! The Dow shattered its all-time high for a fourth day in a row. A surprise decline in the unemployment rate and a better-than-expected jobs report lifted stocks higher. The Dow ended the day up just shy of 67 points closing at 14,397. The S&P 500 closed up more than six points and is now just 14 points off its own record high.
The aforementioned jobs showed the unemployment rate dropped to 7.7% in February, its the lowest in four years. The rate had been expected to remain put at 7.9%. Meanwhile, there were 236,000 non-farm payroll jobs created in February, substantially higher than the forecast for 165,000 jobs.
Investors don't seem to like Facebook's FB facelift. The stock was down more than 2%. The social media giant unveiled a massive makeover yesterday for the site's welcome page. It has bigger photos, customizes the news feed and allows for more prominent advertising. Initial reaction was that the changes make the site look more like competitor Google+.
As for Google (GOOG), it now plans to lay off 1,200 additional people from its Motorola Mobility unit. The cuts represent 10% of the Motorola staff. They come on top of a 20% staff reduction that began last August. Google completed its purchase of Motorola just under a year ago. Company shares have been climbing steadily, hitting new highs on several successive days, thought closed today down slightly. By the way, Google now tops Apple as the most widely held stock in mutual funds.
Good things have been happening to Pandora (P) since it took the lid off quarterly earnings, despite the announcement that CEO Joe Kennedy is departing the company. Shares jumped today on the news that revenues rose 54% beating expectations. They had been up as much as 26% in extended trading hours but dipped on the announcement that Kennedy is departing. It was under his watch that Pandora grew to become the world's largest online radio service with more than 67 million listeners.
Smithfield Foods (SFD) was cooking again today. The stock shot up more than 10% yesterday after releasing its earnings and is now trading near its 52-week high. Smithfield is the nation's largest pork processor and hog producer. The company's biggest shareholder is calling for Smithfield to be broken into three separate units. It also wants Smithfield to begin doling-out a dividend. They reportedly sent a letter saying as much yesterday. Smithfield has underperformed for years. Since 2006 its price is down 26% while competitor Hormel has climbed 131% and Tyson has returned 70%.
Ally Financial isn't making friends with regulators. The bank is criticizing the Fed, after the central bank said Ally failed an annual stress test. Ally was in fact the only one of the 18 banks measured to fall short of a required 5% capital buffer. Citigroup (C) did the best of the large banks with an 8.3% buffer. JP Morgan (JPM) and Morgan Stanley (MS) fell more closely to that 5% mark. Next week the Fed will announce which banks can return cash to shareholders.
- Investment & Company Information