Drop in Oil Imports Pushes Stocks Higher

Stocks jumped today after U.S. trade deficit data gave us reason to be bullish again. The trade deficit fell to $38.5 billion from $48.6 billion a year ago, which has a few implications. First, the deficit is lower than the estimates the government used to calculate the 0.1% drop in GDP during the fourth quarter. After revisions, we'll probably see slight growth in GDP to end the year. Second, the reading shows a continued decline in net oil imports to a level we haven't seen since 1997. All of this combined has driven the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) up 0.22% near the end of today's trading session, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) 0.44% higher.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) led the Dow today, jumping 2.4% during late trading. The company set new labor guidelines for Chinese suppliers in an effort to crack down on the use of low-wage labor. This stock can swing wildly depending on where breakup rumors stand, and that may also be driving the stock higher as well. The bottom line for investors is that HP is struggling, and it's a 50-50 whether the stock will go up or down from here -- odds no investor should like.

McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) reported some negative news for the market this morning. Global same-store sales fell 1.9% in January, driven by weak demand in Europe and Japan. The good news is that U.S. demand was up slightly, and investors were expecting a slight decline, so the stock wasn't crushed today. Shares are up a modest 0.4%, more or less pacing the market right now.

News that regulators will permit 787 Dreamliner test flights wasn't enough to bolster Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) today, and the stock fell 1.3%. The company told two European airlines that 787 deliveries scheduled for this month would be delayed. Boeing is working on a fix for battery issues that caused the aircraft to be grounded on Jan. 16, potentially costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars.

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