Stocks meandered lower today after the government released uninspiring economic data. Last week's jobless claims fell slightly to 366,000 but were short of forecasts of 360,000, and the previous week's reading was revised higher. The Department of Labor also said productivity fell 2% in the fourth quarter. The drop follows a 3.2% gain in the third quarter, but this isn't a good sign for overall economic growth. As of 3:20 p.m. EST the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is down 0.32%, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) has fallen 0.3%.
Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) is taking the news the hardest today, dropping 1.9% during trading. The company relies on economic growth to build its demand, and there are now worries that the company has hit a wall after years of explosive growth. Still, shares only trade at 11 times trailing earnings, and Caterpillar pays a 2.1% dividend yield, so with the global economic recovery still in an early stage, I think there's an opportunity for patient investors.
Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) is one of the few Dow components in the black today, climbing 1.4% after its distributor Coca-Cola Enterprises released earnings. The downstream company reported a 25% increase in earnings to $0.45 per share and a 1% bump in sales. This could be a peek into how Coca-Cola's earnings will look when results are released early next week. Coca-Cola owns some of its own bottling network, so it should see benefits similar to those CCE enjoyed.
Boeing (NYSE: BA ) is also up 1.4% today as investors speculate that a fix for the 787 Dreamliner's problems isn't far off. The National Transportation Safety Board said it has identified the source of one of the battery fires and is narrowing in on the major fault that has grounded the brand-new aircraft. That's great news for Boeing investors, and it means there may soon be a solution to the troubles that have plagued Boeing over the past month.
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