August 23, 2012
At the halfway point of the trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) was down 84 points (or 0.11%) to 13,088. That's down 250 points from the one-year high of 13,338 set just two days ago.
There were four economic-data releases this morning. Jobs data pushed down the general market, while housing data is boosting stocks affected by the housing market. This morning, the Department of Labor reported weekly jobless claims rose by 4,000 to 372,000 from last week's 368,000. Economists had expected a rise of only 1,000. On the housing front, home prices increased 0.7% in June, with single-family home sales rising 3.6% to an annualized 372,000. The level of sales is the highest level in over two years and above analyst' forecasts of 365,000.
The positive housing data is not enough to overcome investors' concerns over jobless claims. Stocks as a whole were down, but a few are defying the downward move.
Today's top 3
- One of the few Dow stocks that isn't down today is Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT ) , up 0.73% (or $0.30) to $41.31. Kraft announced yesterday it is selling a stake in its Back to Nature brand to private equity firm Brynwood partners. A Kraft spokesperson said the brand "does not have the kind of scale for us that will get it the resources that could get it the growth that it should." Brynwood has a history of buying small brands from large consumer goods companies, including Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) , Unilever, and PepsiCo. Kraft's stake will be included in the company's spinoff later this year of its snack brands, which will be called Mondelez International. Investors have debated which company will be better for investors post-spin, as well as what's up with the company's strange name.
- Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) is up 0.51% (or $0.12) to $23.82. The drug behemoth posted its Q2 earnings at the end of last month that beat analysts' expectations. Revenue was down from last year's $17 billion to $15.06 billion, better than the expected $14.9 billion. Earnings per share were $0.62, better than the expected $0.54 and last year's $0.33 per share. These numbers are the result of serious cost-cutting, as last year's top-selling drug, Lipitor, finally went off-patent. Revenue from the drug dropped nearly 80% year-over-year. Pfizer has been making moves to offset its lost golden goose and recently signed a deal with AstraZeneca to sell an over-the-counter version of Nexium. Fool colleague Max Macaluso believes Pfizer should partner with MannKind (Nasdaq: MNKD ) on the company's inhalable insulin product as another avenue for growth. Click here to read his take.
- Home Depot is up 0.42% (or $0.23) to $56.87. The company reported strong earnings last Tuesday and hit a 52-week high last Friday, reaching $57.18. The company has been benefiting from the positive housing numbers reported by the government as well as strength being reported by homebuilders like D.R. Horton.
The best approach
Watching the broad market each day is exciting, but investing doesn't have to be gut-wrenching and stressful. If you're in the mood to pick up some solid buys for the long term, The Motley Fool has created a brand-new free report that focuses on three Dow stocks with both promising growth prospects and strong dividends. The report is yours, absolutely free -- just click here.