Much focus has been placed on the unemployment rates in the past few years due to the effects that they can have on our economy and markets. After a decrease in unemployment claims over the past few months, claims increased 13,000 to 380,000 total in the week ending April 7, according to Bloomberg. This is the highest since Jan. 28. A Bloomberg News survey median forecast expected 355,000 claims.
Also according to Bloomberg, Bank of America's Michael Hanson said, "There's a modest recovery in the labor market, but still a ways to go." He also cited the continuing European debt crisis and possible U.S. government budget cuts as possible obstructions to improvement.
The trade deficit was reported to have narrowed more than forecast, likely due to a decrease in the amount of imports during February. Imports are at the lowest in three years, and the amount of crude oil purchased is at the smallest in fifteen years. In addition, the trade gap reduction reflects a drop off in demand for Chinese goods.
Business section: Investing ideas
The list below contains S&P 500 companies that have encouraging DuPont trends. Even through a slow economic recovery, they have shown to be strong companies. Do you think they will continue to be?
List sorted by market cap. (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)
3. Abbott Laboratories: Engages in the discovery, development, manufacture, and sale of health care products worldwide. It has a market cap of $93.90 billion. MRQ net profit margin at 15.6% vs. 14.45% y/y. MRQ sales/assets at 0.172 vs. 0.165 y/y. MRQ assets/equity at 2.466 vs. 2.671 y/y.
4. Occidental Petroleum
5. American Express: Provides charge and credit payment card products, and travel-related services worldwide. It has a market cap of $67.70 billion. MRQ net profit margin at 14.33% vs. 13.53% y/y. MRQ sales/assets at 0.054 vs. 0.054 y/y. MRQ assets/equity at 8.159 vs. 9.038 y/y.
6. UnitedHealth Group: Provides health care services in the United States. It has a market cap of $61.09 billion. MRQ net profit margin at 4.85% vs. 4.34% y/y. MRQ sales/assets at 0.382 vs. 0.381 y/y. MRQ assets/equity at 2.4 vs. 2.442 y/y.
9. Yum! Brands: Operates as a quick-service restaurant company in the United States and internationally. It has a market cap of $32.63 billion. MRQ net profit margin at 8.66% vs. 7.69% y/y. MRQ sales/assets at 0.465 vs. 0.428 y/y. MRQ assets/equity at 4.846 vs. 5.277 y/y.
10. EOG Resources: Engages in the exploration, development, production, and marketing of natural gas and crude oil primarily in the United States, Canada, the Republic of Trinidad, Tobago, the United Kingdom, and the People's Republic of China. It has a market cap of $28.34 billion. MRQ net profit margin at 4.35% vs. 3.% y/y. MRQ sales/assets at 0.112 vs. 0.083 y/y. MRQ assets/equity at 1.965 vs. 2.113 y/y.
Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.