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After falling 155 points in two days, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) did a180 today, and posted a gain of 119 points, or 0.86%, during the last trading session of the week. Uncertainty and fear over comments found in the Federal Reserve's January minutes, which were released on Wednesday, fueled the bearish run, which sent stocks lower Wednesday and Thursday. The markets were reassured this morning by the St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard that the Fed plans to keep its quantitative-easing policy very easy for an extended period of time. Bullard's words were enough to kick-start the bulls again today, and the Dow closed just above 14,000. Unfortunately though, even on days when the index moves higher by more than 100 points, there are still a few losers.
Who was down and why?
Shares of Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) lost 0.4% today. Reports that China's aluminum inventories are ballooning are likely the cause for the recent share decline of the American aluminum company. Stockpiles of the metal in China have risen around 30% from a year ago, as higher production from the country's northwest region have not been absorbed by the market. Aluminum's price has dropped by 7.7% on the London Metal Exchange over the past 12 months, and has fallen behind other common commoditized metals such as copper, tin, and lead. Year to date, Alcoa's shares are down 0.46%, while the Dow is up 6.84% in 2013.
Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) ended the day just slightly lower; shares closed down 0.05%. The warnings that have been coming from major retailers and consumer goods stocks may have investors questioning the power of brand name products. Americans have seen their paychecks shrink this year, because the Social Security tax has reverted back to 6.2% as of January 1, 2013 -- a 2% increase from where it stood for the past few years. During the dark days of the most recent recession, many consumers traded down from name brand to store brand or generic products. This trend slightly reversed as consumer confidence and the economy strengthened, but now that wallets are thinner, trading down again is an easy way to stretch every dollar.
Even though Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) received an upgrade from Raymond James today, shares dropped by 0.11%. The analyst changed the previous "market perform" rating to an "outperform," and now has a price target of $105 per share. But that positive news wasn't enough to block out the bad news the company released today. Caterpillar is considering closing a distribution plant in central Pennsylvania, which currently employees 250 people. A company spokesman said that workers were told back in September that the facility could possibly move to another location in the eastern United States, and that the decision would be made by March. The manufacturing operations at this site were closed back in 1998.
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