Markets Move One Step Closer to Milestone Levels

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After gaining more than 130 points, or 0.89%, today the Dow Jones Industrial Average now sits at 14,831, just 1.13% below the 15,000 mark. The S&P 500 rose nearly 15 points, or 0.94%, this afternoon, and is now also just 0.18% below the 1,600 mark. With good news tomorrow on the jobs front, the S&P 500 should easily hit that target, and while the Dow could gain the 169 points in one day, it will likely be a mark which is hit sometime next week if it appears the economy is continuing to recover.

Economists are expecting the Labor Department to report that 145,000 jobs were created in April, but unemployment remained at 7.6%. For now, we will have to wait and see what happens, but the lower than expected jobless claims last week is a good sign that the report tomorrow may come in better than some anticipate.

Now, let's take a look at which Dow components were big winners today.


We often see the shares of the big oil companies rise and fall alongside of the price of oil, and today was no different. The price of oil moved higher by 3.25% after positive jobless claims data was released this morning, as well as the announcement that the ECB would lower short-term interest rates, and the expectation that we will receive a positive jobs report tomorrow. And with all that news, both of the Dow's big oil companies climbed higher today: Chevron increased by 1.47%, while ExxonMobil rose by 1.28%. 

Shares of American Express rose by 1.61% during today's trading session after its competitor Visa announced positive earnings, and a number of good signs for the industry yesterday after the market closed. Visa, which operates debit and credit cards, reported that, combined, the number of transactions increased by 4.2% in the quarter. This is great news for the industry, and shows that consumers are returning to old habits of using cards opposed to cash. More importantly, credit transactions increased by 9%, while use of debit cards were flat during the period. The transaction count increase helps profits due to transaction fees and, because credit was used more than debit, this boosts the likelihood that interest will be earned, which also pumps up profits. 

Microsoft shareholders saw the value of their holding rise 1.34% today. The stock rose $0.44 per share, and hit a new 52-week high, at $33.17, on slightly lower-than-usual volume of 46 million shares trading hands. (The average is just slightly more than 50 .6 million.) After nearly 10 years of a stagnant share price only occasionally breaking the $30 barrier, the stock looks to be gaining momentum. Year to date, Microsoft is up more than 24%, making it the third best performing Dow component of 2013, behind Disney, which is up more than 28%, and Hewlett-Packard which has climbed more than 43.5%.

It's been a frustrating path for Microsoft investors, who've watched the company fail to capitalize on the incredible growth in mobile over the past decade. However, with the release of its own tablet, along with the widely anticipated Windows 8 operating system, the company is looking to make a splash in this booming market. In a new premium report on Microsoft, a Motley Fool analyst explains that, while the opportunity is huge, so are the challenges. The report includes regular updates as key events occur, so make sure to claim a copy of this report now by clicking here.

The article Markets Move One Step Closer to Milestone Levels originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Matt Thalman owns shares of Microsoft. The Motley Fool recommends American Express and Chevron. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter: @mthalman5513. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.

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