These Stocks Are Leading the Dow Higher

At the halfway point of the trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) is flat, just two points down for the day. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) is down about three points to 1,458.

There were two U.S. economic releases this morning which were mixed for stocks.





New unemployment claims

Oct. 7 to Oct. 13.



Leading Economic Index




Source: MarketWatch U.S. Economic Calendar.

The first economic release was the Department of Labor's new unemployment claims report, which showed that new unemployment claims rose to 388,000 from last week's 342,000. That's worse than analyst expectations of 365,000. The four-week average rose to just 365,000. Analysts tend to follow the four-week average, as the weekly numbers can be highly volatile.

The second economic release was the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index, which was up 0.6% in September, above analysts' expectations of a 0.2% rise. The index is made up of 10 indicators and is designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle.

The news hasn't been enough to keep the Dow from flatlining, but a few stocks are holding their own in today's trading.

Today's Dow leaders
Today's Dow leader is Travelers (NYS: TRV) up 3.73% ($2.65) to $74.03. The insurer reported earnings this morning of $2.21 per share. That's better than both analyst expectations of $1.61 a share and last year's $0.79 per share. Last year's results were lowered by Hurricane Irene, which tore up the U.S. East Coast. Traveler's gets a four-star rating on CAPS, our community stock-picking game. Click here to see why members think positively of the stock.

Second for the day is Verizon (NYS: VZ) , up 2.6% ($1.16) to $48.88. The company reported earnings this morning that met analyst expectations on revenue and earnings per share. Earnings per share were $0.56, below analyst estimates of $0.64 and 14% above last years $0.49. If you exclude one-time items, however -- in this case, patent litigation settlements -- earnings were $0.64, which met analyst expectations. Revenue was $29 billion, precisely in line with estimates. The stock is up mainly because Verizon reported that it added 1.5 million new device contracts -- many more than analysts expected.

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