Thanks to the Consumer Confidence Index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) average is moving higher today. The index climbed to 70.3, up from 61.3 in August, indicating that consumers have a more positive view of their current conditions. Individuals feel optimistic about the job market, employment, business conditions, and their financial situations. The belief that happy consumers will help the economy has lifted the Dow to 13,598 -- up 239.75 points, or 0.29%. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) and the Nasdaq are also trading higher this afternoon, up by 0.31% and 0.37%, respectively.
So why are they down?
Caterpillar and Alcoa are lower this morning by 2.5% and 0.72%, respectively. The drop comes after Caterpillar announced a cut to its forecast for 2015 earnings as commodity producers reduce capital expenditures.
First, the reason the earnings cut is for years down the road is that Caterpillar makes enormous machines that take years to make, therefore construction companies and miners place order for years in advance. If customers stop buying now, Caterpillar will not really feel it for a few more years.
Secondly, this affects Alcoa because while mining companies plan to rein in spending, ore and other mined raw materials which are used to make aluminum may become more expensive in the future. More expensive raw materials will mean lower margins for the manufacturers like Alcoa.
Finally, United Technologies subsidiary Pratt & Whitney has hit a significant milestone today. It has delivered its 500th F119 engine, which powers the F-22 Raptor fighter jet. While the accomplishment shows the quality and dependability of the product, it also reminds investors that the program is coming to an end. The company stated, "We are on track to deliver the final F119 engine by the end of the year. If a program ends, revenue from it will also be ending. Investors may be concerned over how United Technologies will make up for the lower revenue.
While the mining industry plans to reduce capital expenditures now, a number of different factors could change their minds in the future. These decisions will not affect either Caterpillar or Alcoa for a number of years. The world changes daily, and to make predictions about what will happen even just three years down the road is nonsense. While I believe Caterpillar is a buy today, find out the risks and a few opportunities facing the company. Click here before you miss a lower stock price.