Economic data continues to be unimpressive early in 2013, and that has sent markets largely lower today, though not by much. Retail sales rose just 0.1% in January as higher taxes and gas prices kept investors from opening their wallets more. As of 3:15 p.m. EST the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) has fallen 0.43%, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) is down 0.16%.
Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) continued to slide after reporting earnings. The company fell 1.1% today after an even worse drop yesterday. The company missed both revenue and earnings estimates but still reported strong growth, so not all is lost for investors. Coca-Cola still has a strong moat, and long-term investors should see this as an opportunity to buy into a strong brand.
The other notable sell-off on the Dow was McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) , which fell 1.4% after President Obama called for the minimum wage to be raised from $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour and potentially be tied to the cost of living. Labor is a big input cost for McDonald's, and the potential impact on margins has investors selling in bulk today.
While 24 of 30 Dow components are down for the day, General Electric (NYSE: GE ) has jumped 3.6% to save the index from even bigger losses. Comcast, which currently owns 51% of NBCUniversal, has announced an early buyout of GE's 49% stake for $16.7 billion. The reaction from analysts is mixed; some think GE is giving the company away. For now, the cash infusion will give GE flexibility to execute its strategy, and that's enough to push the stock today.
For GE, the recent financial crisis struck a blow, but management took advantage of the market's dip to make strategic bets in energy. If you're a GE investor, you need to understand how these bets could drive this company to become the world's infrastructure leader. You need to be aware of the threats to GE's portfolio. To help, we're offering comprehensive coverage for investors in a premium report on General Electric, in which our industrials analyst breaks down GE's multiple businesses. You'll find reasons to buy or sell GE, and you'll receive continuing updates as major events unfold during the year. To get started, click here now.