After yesterday's final-hour bloodbath, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) fell by more than 150 points to finish the day down 216 points, investors received positive news this morning from consumers. Housing numbers for January soared higher, and consumer confidence also took a leap forward. January's consumer confidence reading was only 58.4, but data released this morning showed that number climbing to 69.6 in February.
Investors seem to be forgetting about Europe's troubles as the markets move higher today. The S&P 500 is up 0.38%, the NASDAQ has gains 0.03%, and the Dow leads the way, up 0.74% by 1 p.m. EST. Of the Dow's 30 components, only six are lower so far.
So who's down and why?
Shares of UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH ) have been getting hammered lately. Last week shares lost 5%, yesterday they fell another 2.5%, and today they're down 0.6%. Since Humana released a profit warning early last week, investors have steadily ditched the insurance industry, and now UnitedHealth is closing in on its 52-week low of $50.32 per share. Year to date, shares are down 2.5%, while the Dow is up 5.8% over the same time frame.
Giant drug-manufacturer Merck (NYSE: MRK ) is down by 0.8% after a report broke yesterday indicating that the company's diabetes drug Januvia, one of the company's top sellers, may increase a user's risk of other health issues. The drug is being linked to inflammation of the pancreas. Insurance records show that patients hospitalized with pancreatitis were twice as likely to be on Januvia or Byetta, a diabetes drug produced by Bristol-Myers Squibb. As the industry continues to lose patent protection on blockbuster drugs, issues like this will only increase downward pressure on profits.
Shares of JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) have lost 0.3% after the company announced cutbacks in its mortgage and community banking units. The company plans to cut a total of 19,000 jobs through 2014, 4,000 of which will be cut in 2013. The reduction in staff is a way for the bank to reduce expenses while continuing to increase revenue.
With big finance firms still trading at deep discounts to their historical norms, investors everywhere are wondering whether this is the new normal or finance stocks are a screaming buy today. The answer depends on the company, so to help you figure out whether JPMorgan is a buy today, I invite you to read our premium research report on the company today. Click here now for instant access!