Third Time's the Charm: Jobs Data Hurts the Dow


For the third day in a row, the markets have been hit with poor jobs data.

On Wednesday, payroll-processing company ADP reported that private employers only added 158,000 new jobs in the month of March, whereas economists were expecting 200,000 hires. Yesterday, the Department of Labor's weekly jobless-claims report indicated that 385,000 initial claims had been filed the previous week, which was 28,000 more than the week before and 35,000 higher than what was expected. And today, the Department of Labor once again poured on the bad news with its March employment report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that just 88,000 new jobs were created last month. Analysts were expecting a much higher number, which most had pinned around 200,000.

Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average managed to post a strong gain yesterday despite the high jobless claims, as of 12:55 p.m. EDT today it's down 111 points, or 0.76%. The other major indexes are actually performing worse: The S&P 500 has lost 0.95% of its value, and the NASDAQ is down 1.17%.

Some of the largest drags on the markets today come from the world of technology.

Shares of Cisco have fallen 2.5% after competitor F5 Networks released an earnings warning. Shareholders need to remember that poor performance by the competition can sometimes be good news. However, concerns that established companies are struggling to keep up with ever-changing technology have investors pulling out of the networking giant today.

After falling 1.3% yesterday, shares of IBM are down a further 1.4% today. While Cisco is getting punished for a competitor's weakness today, investors may be punishing IBM for its competition's strength. A recently published independent study indicates that IBM's competitor Oracle now has chips and servers that outperform IBM's similar devices.

The Dow's darling stock of 2013, Hewlett-Packard , is down by 1.9% after chairman Ray Lane announced yesterday that he will step down from his position but still hold a seat on the board of directors. Only 59% of shareholders voted to re-elect Lane at the company's recent shareholder meeting, so Lane's move is something of a mixed bag. It likely makes 41% of shareholders happy that he's no longer the chairman yet unhappy that he's still on the board. On the other hand, 59% of shareholders voted to keep Lane, so they may be upset today that he gave in to the minority and decided to step down.

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Fool contributor Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Cisco Systems. The Motley Fool owns shares of International Business Machines. 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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