Dow Slips on Poor Retail Data

Friday's remarkable growth may seem like a distant dream, as markets experienced a mellow decline on the usual indicators of European pessimism and faltering economic signals at home. By noon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) had receded 0.3% while the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) was down 0.2%. This time, retail sales acted as the negative indicator providing a gloomy forecast for the U.S. Retail sales dropped 0.5% in June after falling 0.2% in May, according to the Commerce Department. The numbers fall short of the median projection of a 0.2% rise. This indicates falling consumer confidence, likely induced by the many global economic uncertainties.

The somber tone extended beyond the United States, as the International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecast and warned of slowdowns in emerging markets. While the IMF maintained its 2012 prediction for 3.5% global growth, it trimmed its 2013 projection to 3.9% from 4.1%. The IMF, in its updated World Economic Outlook, warned that "the most immediate risk is still that delayed or insufficient policy action will further escalate the euro area crisis." Add in the IMF's pessimism over future productive capacity in BRIC countries, the oncoming fiscal cliff in the U.S., and a possibly disappointing earnings season, and your best bet may be buying Pfizer stock with all the investors buying Advil for their headaches.

Dow in focus
After Morgan Stanley cut its rating to equal weight from overweight, General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) shares tumbled 1.1%. GE Aviation did sign an agreement with Boeing to design and build the mission control systems for the U.S. Air Force's fleet of KC-46A tankers. The deal could be worth up to $180 million. However, the news wasn't enough to outweigh Morgan Stanley's announcement. GE will report its earnings on Friday, which will help reveal whether the investment bank's call was correct.

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) rose slightly, posting a 0.5% increase by noon. However, the news surrounding banks today came from Citigroup, which saw profits fall less than expected after reporting earnings earlier today. Citigroup has underperformed peers Bank of America, JPMorgan, and Wells Fargo so far in 2012, although today's announcement may indicate Citigroup is getting its act together. For Dow banks like Bank of America and JPMorgan, investors should expect continued volatility as more details emerge about JPMorgan's trading loss and the LIBOR scandal. JPMorgan, the Dow's biggest loser so far today, was down 1.9%.

Shares of Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) slid 1.5% on continued pessimism surrounding tech companies. Soft business spending and European exposure have hit tech companies like Cisco hard. Chip makers led the retreat, motivated by FBR Capital downgrading Texas Instruments to underperform. Although Cisco will not release its quarterly earnings until mid-August, the reports from other tech companies will likely affect the networking giant as investors learn more about recent demand in the tech sector.

Stay tuned
Companies will be moving all over the place during earnings season. To stay up to date with alerts and news items about your favorite companies, be sure to take advantage of the My Watchlist feature from The Motley Fool. It's yours free, so get started today by clicking one of these links:

Foolish intern Charlie Kannel owns no shares of the companies mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Cisco Systems. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Wells Fargo and Pfizer. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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