What to Look For in the Dow Today

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While the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) is still hovering near four-year highs, it gave back some ground yesterday after a disappointing hiring report. Payroll specialist ADP reported that just 119,000 jobs were added in April, far below expectations of 170,000. The report is seen as a predictor of Friday's official employment figures from the Department of Labor.

Market-watchers will get another insight into the jobs recovery when initial unemployment claims are reported today at 8:30 a.m. ET. The market expects a total of 375,000 new filings following last week's total of 388,000. The last three initial claims totals have come in higher than expectations, another bad sign ahead of Friday's jobs reports.

Later in the morning, the ISM Services Report is due out at 10 a.m. ET. Tuesday's ISM manufacturing report helped send blue chips up 66 points, as the Purchasing Managers Index came in 1.8 points ahead of expectations. Considering that the ADP said the service sector added 123,000 jobs last month, improvements could be even stronger in the service index. The market is eyeing a figure 55.5 for April, indicating solid expansion in the sector.


On the earnings calendar, one Dow stock is set to report today: Kraft Foods (NYS: KFT) , at 4 p.m. ET. The food maker has faced rising commodity costs lately for goods such as wheat, corn, and coffee, and it's raised prices to cope with the crunch. Kraft is planning to split into two companies later this year -- an international snack-food company known as Mondelez, and the North American grocery business that will keep the Kraft name. The spinoff is expected to cost between $1.6 billion and $1.8 billion. Looking toward the quarterly report, analysts are predicting that the company earned $0.56 per share last quarter on revenue of $12.57 billion.

Other developing stories to watch include a German court ruling that Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) had violated Motorola Mobility (NYS: MMI) patents and ordered the software giant to remove its Xbox 360 and Windows 7 software from German shelves. Microsoft responded by saying it will continue selling its products to Germans because a court in Seattle had granted it an injunction to prevent Motorola from enforcing the German court's ruling.

Finally, Chesapeake Energy (NYS: CHK) CEO Aubrey McClendon appeared to be one step closer to his swan song after revealing that he had been running his own commodities hedge fund for the past four years, betting on resources his company deals with. McClendon had also come under fire recently for borrowing money using a personal stake in the company's wells as collateral. The board stripped him of his chairmanship, and the stock dropped 15% yesterday as Chesapeake reported a quarterly loss on top of the new revelations. Some analysts are calling for McClendon's head, along with those of much of the board for allowing such shenanigans. Expect the consequences to come to bear over the coming weeks.

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At the time this article was published Fool contributorJeremy Bowmanholds no positions in the companies in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Automatic Data Processing, Chesapeake Energy, and Microsoft and creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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