How Star Wars Helped Push the Dow Higher


The all-important employment numbers are in, and investors like what they see. The Department of Labor said the U.S. economy added 236,000 jobs in February and unemployment fell to 7.7%, the lowest level since December 2008. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped early on the news, crossing 14,400 for the first time ever, before settling to a 0.4% gain late in the day. The broader S&P500 is up 0.45% late in trading.

Disney jumped 1.9% after it was confirmed that Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher will play their original Star Wars characters in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII. The trio apparently already had contracts when Disney bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion, but the media and investors were unaware they would be back. This will build even more anticipation for Episode VII, which is already an anxiously awaited film.

McDonald's is the second-biggest gainer on the Dow, rising 1.5% after announcing a 1.5% decline in same-store sales. This may look bad, but February had an extra day last year, so same-store sales were actually up 1.7% on a comparable basis. This slightly beat expectations and brought some momentum back to the company that saw same-store sales decline in November for the first time in nine years.

The biggest loser was Bank of America , which fell 1.5% a day after it passed the Fed's stress test. The company was widely expected to pass the test, and investors had bid up shares in anticipation of the results. Today's sell-off is a bit of "buy the rumor, sell the news" gamesmanship by traders. It's still uncertain whether the company will raise its dividend, which is what investors are really hoping for, but today's sell-off is nothing to be too worried about.

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