Stocks Flat After Strong Retail Report

U.S. stock markets have only moved sideways today as investors skittishly await a batch of earnings later this week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has gained just 0.13% near the end of trading, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is up a minuscule 0.06%. The big economic data for the day was a fairly strong 0.5% increase in retail sales in December. Economists had expected an increase of 0.2%, but a jump of 1.6% in auto sales helped push sales higher despite a 1.6% decline in sales at gas stations. It's a good sign that consumers were willing to spend despite the fiscal cliff hanging over the holidays and the dysfunction in Washington, D.C.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) has been today's biggest mover, losing 2.4% of its value a day after jumping on news of Dell's talk of going private. Research firm Gartner did report that HP kept the top spot in computing in 2012 with 56.5 million PCs sold -- 16% of the overall PC market. This was decent news for HP, but the stock's action shows just why investors should be leery of the stock right now. In the long term the company is in some seriously shaky businesses, and in the short term we have no idea whether the stock will pop or drop at every bit of news. There's just too much uncertainty for this Fool to jump in.

Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) and AT&T (NYSE: T  ) are moving in opposite directions despite reaching a distribution agreement to show multiple channels on AT&T's U-verse platform. About 70 services are covered by the agreement, and it expands U-verse's ability to distribute across multiple platforms. Investors in Disney cheered the news by bidding shares 0.9% higher, but AT&T has fallen 1% on the day.

It's easy to forget that Walt Disney is more than just the House of the Mouse. True, Disney amusement parks around the world hosted more than 121 million guests in 2011. But from its vast catalog of characters to its monster collection of media networks, much of Disney's allure for investors lies in its diversity, and The Motley Fool's new premium research report lays out the case for investing in Disney today. This report includes the opportunities and threats the company faces going forward. We're also providing a full year of regular analyst updates as news develops, so don't miss out -- simply click here now to claim your copy today.


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