As long as Europe faces a crisis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) will probably continue its roller-coaster ride. The Dow is rising and falling almost aimlessly as investors are clearly uncertain about what the future holds. At the time of this writing, the Dow had gained 0.74%, continuing yesterday's positive momentum. The index was bolstered by a report that durable-goods orders climbed more than expected in May and by reassuring news for the housing industry.
Obviously, the importance of the housing recovery to our economy cannot be underestimated. While a full-blown recovery has yet to gain traction, an uptick in home sales is a positive sign. Pending home sales in the U.S. exceeded expectations, compensating for a 5.5% decline in April with a 5.9% May increase that matches its two-year high. We'll find out in a couple of months whether these sales actually go through, but willing consumers are perhaps a reason for optimism in this sector.
The manufacturing sector received a solid boost today as well. Five days after the sector received news of a slowdown in China and a slump in the Philadelphia area, durable-goods orders climbed 1.1%, outstripping the 0.5% gain that analysts expected. BMO Capital Markets senior economist Jennifer Lee cautioned that "U.S. growth will be moderate," but expressed relief that "businesses aren't completely cutting back."
However, not even these positives could save Dow components Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) and Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) from early-morning declines. The aluminum maker tumbled 0.66% after Deutsche Bank slashed earnings estimates to $0.04 a share, down from a previous estimate of $0.16. On the other hand, Caterpillar's tumultuous ride in 2012 continued as the construction and mining equipment maker fell 1% after being removed from one U.S. investment firm's popular social index. The firm, known as MSCI, cited concerns over the company's willingness to sell equipment used in "occupied Palestinian territories."
In the meantime, today's big winners primarily rode general market optimism to big gains. Investors appear bullish on Coca-Cola's prospects in the largely untapped market of India, and its shares rose over 1% during the morning. Coca-Cola aims to bolster the average Indian's consumption from 12 eight-ounce bottles per year closer to the global average of 90. Next up was Disney (NYSE: DIS ) , which soared 1.01%. As much as I'd like this bump to be related to a possible ESPN-televised college football playoff, the market reaction was due to toy company Jakks tripling its forecast for sales of merchandise related to the recent Disney film "Brave."
Seemingly inseparable from recent news in the banking sector, JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM ) jumped 1.29%, building off Goldman Sachs' bullish upgrade yesterday. Goldman analysts wrote that "J.P. Morgan has the earnings power and capital strength to offset the trading loss." Plus, the bank's subsidiary Chase Paymentech launched its new payment terminal, which will allow merchants to accept all of the various types of customer payments in one device.
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