Cheering on newly-released positive economic data, the broader market rose for a third straight day on Friday, closing the week in positive territory. The catalyst? Employment figures: 146,000 new jobs were created, far more than the 85,000 figure that some economists were expecting. The Dow Jones Industrial Average responded well to the news, rising 81 points, or 0.62%, to close at 13,155.
Financials ruled the Dow today, with JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America both posting solid gains, and outpacing the rest of the index. Higher employment bodes well for the broader economy and, as lending steadily picks up, the beleaguered financial industry should rise with the tide. Bank of America is far ahead of the game on that point, having risen an astounding 91% in 2012 to lead all stocks in the index. JPMorgan closed more than 2.6% higher on the day, while Bank of America posted 1.7% gains.
Microsoft took part in tech's woeful performance Friday, and the blue chip giant underperformed its Dow peers, dropping by 1%. It was one of only six companies in the 30-member index to lose ground. Investors are worrying about the new iteration of Microsoft's flagship Windows operating system, Windows 8. Sales have been surprisingly low in the early going, and it doesn't help that sales of Microsoft's first tablet market, the Surface, are also rather anemic.
All signs point to Microsoft investors' worst fears coming true: Microsoft is a has-been that's struggling to adjust to a rapidly-evolving landscape it hasn't even figured out yet. In movie terms, it can't handle the real world, and should probably just return to the Matrix, a reality-simulating machine that's surely run by a more competent competitor.
Ford was a big gainer outside of the Dow today, adding more than 2%, despite issuing its second recall in a week and news from Europe of declining demand. The company recalled nearly 20,000 2013 Ford Fusions due to trouble with the headlights. Still, the stock has certainly come a long way since the financial crisis, and even since this summer, when shares dipped below $9. The stock has surged more than 30% from its summer lows, as investors cheer on solid products, as well as Ford's forward-thinking push into the hybrid market of the future.
Ford has been performing incredibly well as a company over the past few years -- it's making good vehicles, is consistently profitable, recently reinstated its dividend, and has done a remarkable job paying down its debt. But Ford's stock almost seems stuck in neutral. Does this create an incredible buying opportunity, or are there hidden risks with the stock that investors need to know about? To answer that, one of our top equity analysts has compiled a premium research report with in-depth analysis on whether Ford is a buy right now, and why. Simply click here to get instant access to this premium report.
The article What Pushed the Dow Higher to Close the Week originally appeared on Fool.com.
John Divine has the following options: long JAN 2013 $10.00 calls on Bank of America. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Ford, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Microsoft. You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid and on Motley Fool CAPS @TMFDivine.Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Ford and Microsoft. 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.