If you thought the second quarter would go off without a hitch like the first quarter did, the Federal Reserve suggests you think again. The stock market couldn't sustain yesterday's gains and then lost even more ground this afternoon after the Fed released the minutes from its March meeting. With concerns that economic growth isn't strong enough to support stronger employment, stocks lost one source of their recent support. At around 2:45 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) were down 122 points to 13,142, while the S&P 500 dropped 12 points to 1,407.
One stock bucking the downtrend was McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) , which rose to within spitting distance of the $100 per share mark. The move came despite -- or perhaps because of -- reports that Burger King has expanded its menu to include offerings that closely resemble what you'd find at the Golden Arches, including Caesar salads, frappes, and smoothies. Whether the head-to-head approach will work for Burger King remains to be seen, but it certainly validates McDonald's in its menu choice over the years.
Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT ) fell modestly after providing some details about what the company's North American grocery unit will look like after its planned spinoff later this year. Interestingly, the SEC filing revealed that Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) will be the unit's biggest customer, making up nearly a quarter of its total sales. One key to evaluating the post-split businesses will be how the entities split up debt and pension obligations, but it appears that both companies will get a reasonable share of both.
Finally, AT&T (NYSE: T ) was down slightly. The telecom giant faces a potential strike from employees at its wireline unit this weekend if it can't agree to terms of a new contract. The current contract expires Saturday, and the move could hit AT&T at an awkward time as it tries to recover from a big payout related to the failure of its merger with T-Mobile.
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