At first glance, you'd think that today's news would have set the stage for a stock market rally. Homebuilders are more confident about the housing market than they've been in five years, and a flat reading on the U.S. Consumer Price Index has dampened any fears of imminent inflation. But a pessimistic regional outlook from the New York Fed kept stocks in check, and just before 10:45 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) were down 12 points.
Among Dow stocks, Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) was in the news, rising 0.5% despite allegations from two U.S. representatives that they had found evidence suggesting possible tax evasion and money laundering at the company's Wal-Mart de Mexico affiliate. For the most part, Wal-Mart's U.S. shares have ignored the Mexican bribery scandal, instead rising on the prospects for attracting additional customers if the economy continues to remain fairly weak.
Travelers (NYSE: TRV ) climbed 0.8%, continuing to trade near its highs for the year. For the most part, the hurricane season has thus far been free of major losses, yet with Allstate (NYSE: ALL ) having exited many lucrative markets on the Eastern Seaboard, Travelers and other competitors have been able to reap some benefits.
Finally, Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) was down slightly. Apparently, its coming expansion of its 4G LTE network in the Sioux City, Iowa area wasn't enough to get investors more excited about the stock. But if the expected fall release of the next iPhone becomes reality, you can expect Verizon and its mobile network rivals to garner a lot more attention.
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