September 4, 2012
At the halfway point of the trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) was down 79 points (-0.61%) to 13,010. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) is down 7 points (-0.48%) to 1,399.
There were two economic releases today that proved negative for stocks. The Institute for Supply Management reported that its manufacturing index fell to 49.6% last month -- a three-year low. That is down from July's 49.8% and June's 49.7%, and the third straight month below 50%. Readings above 50% mean there was economic growth, while figures below 50% mean there was economic contraction.
The second economic release was the Commerce Department's construction spending report for July. Analysts had expected a gain of 0.5% and were disappointed when construction spending actually fell 0.9%.
Stocks around the world fell on the news, but a few are defying the downward move.
Today's Dow leaders
- Today's Dow leader is Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), up 1.29% to $73.54. The company posted its second-quarter earnings three weeks ago. Wal-Mart missed analysts' expectations on sales growth but slightly beat on earnings per share. Same-stores sales were up 2.2%, versus expectations of 2.7%. Earnings per share were a penny above the forecast $1.17. Looking ahead, the back-to-school season is in full swing, which should help the company's Q3 earnings. Wal-Mart typically does well when times are bad, as consumers are drawn by the retailer's low prices. However, Fool analyst Austin Smith believes that Wal-Mart is overrated and that there are better places for your money. Click here to find out more.
- Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) is up 1.15% to $43.44. The company was actually the third-worst-performing Dow stock in August. Things are looking up for Verizon, as many believe Apple will unveil and begin selling the next iPhone later in the month. That's good news for Verizon and AT&T. The new iPhone is expected to come with lightning-fast 4G LTE data connectivity. Verizon and AT&T are much further ahead in their rollouts of their LTE networks than Sprint is, which means the launch of a new iPhone will be a great opportunity for the pair to poach customers from Sprint. The news of an iPhone release is better for Verizon than for AT&T, as iPhone users have had some qualms with how AT&T treats them.
- Kraft (NYSE: KFT ) is third, up 0.46% to $41.69. Close competitor Campbell's reported Q4 earnings that trounced analyst expectations. The reason Kraft is up is that Campbell's also announced a better-than-expected outlook for 2013. Fool analysts Catherine Baab-Muguira and Isaac Pino recently took a look at the company and why investors are enamored of it.
The best approach
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