Jobs Data Pushes Markets Higher, Apple Jumps 4.7%

Economic reports galore came out today, and on the face of things, they were positive. The May unemployment rate fell to 4.4 percent from 4.5 percent in April. Part of that fall actually came from a decrease in people that were *looking* for work, as opposed to more people simply having found jobs. In fact, there was a loss of jobs, but that loss was off set by the decrease in people looking. Manufacturing took the biggest hit in jobs, and this was backed up by the National Association of Purchasing Management (NAPM) who released their own report for May. The NAPM monthly gauge of industrial activity decreased in May from 42.1 from 43.2. An index lower than 50 is said to indicate a contracting sector, and Mayis numbers show that the manufacturing sector in the US is definitely hurting. From a Reuters report:

"The market absolutely wants to see signs the economy is not weakening worse than expected," said Barry Hyman, chief investment strategist at Ehrenkrantz King Nussbaum. "That will give us a better look toward earnings in the second half of the year."

"Thereis not a lot to crow about," said Alan Ackerman, chief market strategist at Fahnestock & Co. "The big drop in manufacturing payrolls is still disturbing."

The markets seemed to shrug off any negative interpretation of all this data however, and sent the markets into rally mode. This was helped out by news from GM that their unit shipments were up 1% in May. Volume was light, but all three major indexes posted respectable gains. The Nasdaq traded a billion and a half shares and gained almost 39 points. The Dow moved higher by 78 points and traded a bit more than a billion shares. Technology benefitted from the rally, including most of the PC makers. Dell, Gateway, Apple, and IBM all posted gains, while Compaq and HP posted small losses.

Microsoft and AOL have ceased discussions on whether or not AOLis software would be included with Windows XP with the AOL icon being included directly on the Windows XP desktop. This arrangement has been in place for many years, but the contract expired a few months ago. According to a Reuters report:

The source said sticking points included making AOLis instant messaging program compatible with Microsoftis or tweaking AOLis system to support Microsoftis Windows Media Player format in addition to RealNetworksi RealPlayer format.

But another person close to the discussions said Microsoft and AOL never discussed instant messaging compatibility. He said Microsoft had asked for exclusive use of its Windows Media Player format with AOL, which AOL would not agree to.

AOL has grown to become the worldis largest ISP in part because of its cherry placement on the Windows desktop. At the same time, it was AOLis exclusive use of Internet Explorer over Netscapeis browser that contributed to Microsoft triumphing in the browser war. Todayis battle is between AOL and MSN, Windows Media Player and Real Networksi products (Appleis QuickTime doesnit seem to be part of the equation), and MSN Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger. Microsoft carries enormous leverage due to their monopoly position in the OS market. AOL carries its own power due to the huge percentage of the ISP market that they own. The technologies they support get a huge boost from being supported. It will be interesting to see who ends up as the loser with the two companies not doing business as usual.

Apple posted a very strong gain today that propelled it back over the 20 mark, and near to the 21 level. AAPL opened up some 40 cents higher and trended steadily higher throughout the day, closing near the dayis high. Volume was moderate and the dayis trading range was 19.99 - 21.05. As has been the case with AAPL for the past couple of weeks, this move upward was not precipitated by any specific news.

Apple closed at 20.89, up 0.94 (+4.71%), on volume of 8,145,200 shares trading hands.

The Nasdaq closed at 2149.44, a gain of 38.95 (+1.85%), on volume of 1,556,308,000 shares trading hands.

The Dow closed at 10990.41, a gain of 78.47 (+0.72%), on volume of 1,015,007,000 shares trading hands.

The S&P 500 closed at 1260.67, up 4.85 (+0.39%).

Adobe closed at 40.58, a gain of 0.81 (+2.04%), on light volume of 3,920,800 shares trading hands.

Akamai and Digital Wave have announced an agreement to supply Taiwanese businesses with enhanced services. AKAM closed at 10.35, up 2 pennies (+0.19%), on strong volume of 4,029,600 shares trading hands. Apple is a large shareholder of Akamai.

Earthlink closed at 13.31, a gain of 0.13 (+0.99%), on volume of 2,040,900 shares trading hands.

IBM closed at 112.89, up 1.09 (+0.97%), on light volume of 5,138,900 shares trading hands.

Macromedia closed at 22.05, a loss of 0.23 (-1.03%), on strong volume of 1,586,100 shares trading hands.

Motorola is continuing to lose market share to Nokia in the cell phone market. MOT closed at 14.28, a loss of 0.42 (-2.86%), on light volume of 7,289,100 shares trading hands.

Dell is the subject of a story by the Wall Street Journal discussing last yearis compensation to its top execs. DELL closed at 24.61, up a quarter (+1.03%), on light volume of 31,911,000 shares trading hands.

Gateway closed at 17.06, a gain of 0.36 (+2.16%), on light volume of 1,353,700 shares trading hands.

Intel has had its StrongARM processor chosen for a new handheld from Sharp. The StrongARM was first used in the Newton, before Intel bought the company. INTC closed at 28.74, a gain of 1.73 (+6.41%), on strong volume of 60,607,700 shares trading hands.

Microsoft pulled out of an Aimster advertising deal just a couple of days after starting it. MSFT closed at 70.34, a gain of 1.16 (+1.68%), on light volume of 28,794,100 shares trading hands.

For full quotes on all the companies mentioned in this article, we have assembled this set of quotes at Yahoo! for your reference. For other stories regarding Appleis stock activity, visit our updated Apple Stock Watch Special Report. You can also check out our Apple Financial Boards, a new moderated forum for Apple Investors and people who are interested in Appleis financial dealings.