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All good things must come to an end, and at least for the moment, the stock market's amazing run is taking a well-deserved break. Weakness in U.S. housing starts was offset somewhat by a jump in housing permits to their best levels in more than three years, but China's economy continues to show signs of a slowdown that could threaten a big part of the global expansion. As of around 10:45 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) were down 83 points to 13,157, while the S&P 500 lost 8 points to 1,402. Overseas, stocks fell even harder, with London's FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) down about 1.2%.
Among Dow stocks, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) fell more than 1% despite getting some encouraging news on the PC front. Research firm IDC released figures suggesting that PC sales could grow as much as 5% this year, especially in the second half of the year, as the release of Windows 8 could prompt a resurgence in demand.
Disney (NYSE: DIS ) fell 0.8% in early trading. The company now believes that the movie John Carter will lose a projected $200 million. That will be more than enough to take what would have been an operating profit for the quarter and turn it into an overall loss of between $80 million and $120 million.
Finally, Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) was up slightly despite news that soft-drink consumption in the U.S. declined at a faster pace during 2011. Volumes fell about 1% to 9.27 billion cases, according to Beverage Digest, accelerating from a 0.5% decline in 2010.
Keep your cool
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