The markets received mixed economic data this morning: ADP payroll numbers indicated that only 118,000 new jobs were created in November, down from October, but the Department of Labor said productivity rose 2.9%, and the Institute for Supply Management reported its non-manufacturing index rose to 54.7% in November from 54.2% in October. This news led the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) to trade flat at the open, but after politicians from Washington indicated that talks on a solution to keep the U.S. from falling off the fiscal cliff were progressing, the index surged more than 100 points higher.
And as the closing bell rang today, the index was up 82 points or 0.64%, and now sits back above the 13,000 mark, at 13,034. Today, only eight of the Dow's 30 components ended the trading session in the red. With 22 stocks in the green, the losers were all pulled lower by micro events, rather than big macroeconomic trends that were in play today. This afternoon, I explained why Boeing (NYSE: BA ) , Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) , and IBM (NYSE: IBM ) all moved lower. Read about what caused those three companies to fall into the red by clicking here or stick around to learn why Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) , Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) , and McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) also slid into the red.
So why did they fall?
Shares of Home Depot moved all over the board today, but closed down 0.34%. This morning, the company received good news that the West Coast port workers were back on the docks in southern California, after an eight-day strike, and were unloading full cargo ships. Home Depot has made it clear that it is fully stocked for the holiday shopping season and that this strike has not nor will it cause any inventory problems. But now that issues on the West Coast have been dealt with, attention turns to the East Coast and a possibly massive port strike on that side of the U.S. The potential strike would span from Maine to Texas and could affect merchandise for the spring and summer seasons, times when homeowners typically do most of their home-repair projects.
Fellow retail giant Wal-Mart would likely be affected by the possible strike as well and may also be moving lower on that news. But it also could have slid lower today because a Reuters poll indicated that only 39% of Black Friday shoppers showed up at discount retail stores, while 46% went to traditional department stores. Additionally, 9% of the respondents across the nation indicated that Hurricane Sandy cut into their holiday shopping budgets. Shares of Wal-Mart moved lower by 0.1% today.
McDonald's shareholders also lost 0.26% of their investment today. The fast-food chain has been under attack from other quick-serve restaurants this year, and the onslaught continued today. Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX ) announced that it is planning to open another 1,500 cafes in the U.S. over the next five years and globally it expects to have over 20,000 locations by 2014. At first look, this may not worry McDonald's shareholders, but after considering the McCafe menu items and the possible revenue loss from having a Starbucks closely located to a current McDonald's, shareholders may want to revisit the strength of their company's moat.
Lucky for you, we have already done the hard research on McDonald's. The company has been one of the worst performing blue-chip stocks this year. Our top analyst researching McDonald's will tell you whether you should be worried by this trend, and he'll shed light on whether McDonald's is a buy at today's prices. Click here now to read our premium research report on the company.