Pfizer Leads the Dow Higher

The Dow is up despite a starkly negative consumer confidence reading. As of 1:25 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is up 67 points, or 0.48%. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is up six points, or 0.41%.

There were two U.S. economic releases this morning.

Report

Period

Result

Previous

Case-Shiller Home Price Index

November

(0.1%)

(0.2%)

Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index

January

58.6

66.7

Source: MarketWatch U.S. Economic Calendar.

This morning Standard & Poor's reported that the Case-Shiller Home Price Composite-20 Index fell 0.1% in November to 145.82. While slightly down month over month, that's still a 5.5% increase year over year, bringing the index back to its fall 2003 level. The housing market strengthened throughout 2012, helping the economy and bringing homebuilding and home improvement stocks up with it. We'll have to wait and see if the housing market can continue to strengthen through 2013.

Also this morning, the Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 58.6 in January. That's far below last month's 66.7 and analyst expectations of a drop to 64.3. Consumers' confidence dropped across all measures, including current conditions, labor market, and their short-term outlook. Consumers have some good reasons to be negative -- particularly the 50% increase in the payroll tax, which will cost the average consumer roughly $1,000 a year.

Today's Dow leader
Today's Dow leader is Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) up 3.12% to $27.69. The pharmaceutical giant reported its fourth-quarter earnings this morning. Earnings fell year over year to $0.47 per share. That's better than analyst expectations of $0.44 per share and also better than Estimize's wisdom-of-the-crowds expectations of $0.45 per share. Revenue was down 7% from last year's $16.1 billion to $15.1 billion, but this nonetheless beat expectations of $14.4 billion. Revenue fell as a result of the long-expected loss of exclusivity for Lipitor. With this loss of exclusivity, generics are now allowed into the market.

Pfizer and its investors have known for years that Lipitor was coming off patent, and the company has been taking steps to build  its pipeline and replace the expiring blockbuster drug. The company has also made efforts to return value to shareholders by increasing its quarterly dividend, buying back large amounts of shares ($3.4 billion in Q4 and $8.2 billion for 2012) and spinning off its animal health division.

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