Why These Stocks Are Trading Lower

Typically an uptick in unemployment claims means a tick down for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) , and that's precisely what is happening today. As my Foolish colleague Justin Loiseau explains, claims for the week ending Nov. 10 climbed to 439,000 -- a 22% increase from the previous week. Jobless claims were expected to fall around 375,000. Justin has a great illustration showing the slow decline in unemployment claims from the beginning of 2010 until the present, which spikes higher and puts us back at levels not seen since late 2010.

As of 1 p.m. EST, the Dow is down another 44 points, or 0.35%. So far during today's trading session, 18 of the Dow's 30 components are in the red, and four are down more than 1%. Three of today's losers are Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) , McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) , and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) .

So why are they down?
This morning Wal-Mart announced disappointing third-quarter results. The company missed on same-store sales, and traffic is declining around the world. The company managed to beat earnings-per-share estimates of $1.07 with $1.08. It has been a tough year for the company, given the bribery scandal and now a bad quarter, but shares are still up 14.78% year to date. Wal-Mart is currently the Dow's biggest loser today, with shares trading down 3.8%.

Shares of McDonald's are down more than 1% today after the company announced a shake-up in top management. Jan Fields, the President of McDonald's USA, will be replaced effective Dec. 1 by Jeff Stratton, who is currently the company's worldwide chief restaurant officer. Jan has been working for the golden arches for 35 years and started out as a line-level crew member. The change at the top comes at a time when competition has increased and the company has struggled to continue its rapid growth. Shares are down 16.54% year to date.

Finally, Johnson & Johnson is down by 0.6% today. Yesterday, Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B  ) released its third-quarter holdings, which showed a large reduction in its Johnson & Johnson position. Berkshire sold 492,000 shares, or 95% of its total Johnson & Johnson holdings, in the last quarter.

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