These Stocks Are Leading the Dow Higher


At the halfway point of the trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) was down 21 points (-0.15%) to 13,557. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) is down five points (-0.37%) to 1,456.

There were three economic releases this morning which were mixed for stocks.





Weekly unemployment claims

Sept. 8 to Sept. 15



Markit Purchasing Managers' Index




Leading Economic Index




Source: MarketWatch U.S. Economic Calendar.

This morning the U.S. Department of Labor reported that weekly unemployment claims fell by 3,000 to 382,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The level of claims was higher than the 375,000 analysts had expected. New claims have been steady near 380,000 per week since the spring, signaling little improvement in the labor market. The Markit PMI was unchanged in September. Numbers greater than 50 are positive, while numbers below 50 signal contraction. The final economic release was the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index, which was down 0.1%, in line with analysts' expectations. The index is made up of 10 indicators and is designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle.

The markets as a whole are down slightly, but a few stocks are pushing the Dow higher.

Today's Dow leaders
Today's Dow leader is Kraft (NAS: KFT) , up 1.22% ($0.50) to $41.34. The company is likely gaining because competitor General Mills (NYS: GIS) reported positive results yesterday, growing earnings 35%. Both companies are continuing to rise today. In Kraft-specific news, the company is splitting up its business next month. The stock had been down earlier this month, as the post-split earnings guidance for the companies was below analyst expectations. However, the stock has been on a winning streak this week, rising a total of 3.5%. It should be noted that because of the split, Kraft will no longer be a Dow stock and is being replaced by UnitedHealth Group. Fool analysts Catherine Baab-Muguira and Isaac Pino recently discussed the company and why investors are enamored with it. Click here for their take.

Second for the day is Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) , up 1.12% ($0.35) to $31.40. Yesterday Microsoft announced it will raise its quarterly dividend by 15% to $0.23 per share. The dividend increases raises Microsoft's yield to 2.9% from its current 2.6%. The company paid out 40% of its earnings in the past year, leaving plenty of room to raise it further. In other news, today it was announced that Microsoft has lodged a complaint in China against four Chinese companies that are using unlicensed Microsoft products. Piracy has proven a continual challenge for Microsoft. To learn more about Microsoft, check out our premium research report on the company. Grab your copy today and get regular updates at no additional cost.

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