Dow: So Close, and Yet So Far

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) once again got within 100 points of its all-time high. But once again, it has slipped back. So far today, the Dow has been up and down -- it's now resting slightly above its close from yesterday, with a 0.10% increase. A revision of the fourth-quarter GDP figures has produced a slight increase where there had been a slight decrease. Jobless claims were below analyst forecasts, at 344,000 last week compared to the expected 366,000. In Europe, there are positive signs that the economy is improving as inflation in the eurozone declined by almost 2% during the past 12 months. Continued worries about Italy's elections leave doubt as to whether the European Union's economic troubles will roar back to life.

The index is currently up 12 points, with very few big moves from its components. Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) is the biggest mover right now, with just under a 1% increase this morning. The beverage giant just announced a bond offering that it would use to repurchase its 5%, 7.375%, and 4.25% notes due in 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively. The company has also tapped advertising agency Mullen to support its creative work for Honest Tea. The company is reverting to HT's old model, where most work is done in-house and supported by outside agencies as needed.

Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) continues to ride its better-than-expected earnings wave, up 0.73% this morning. The home improvement store once again topped rival Lowe's earnings, even though both had beaten expectations. Both retailers experienced higher sales due to Hurricane Sandy during the fourth quarter, but have also seen a big boost from the continued improvement in the housing sector

Outside of the Dow, anchor-store retailers have had a rough day after reporting earnings. Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD) beat both revenue and earnings estimates, though it still produced a loss for the quarter. Reduced expenses are a main driver of the improvements made by Sears, as owner Eddie Lampert continues to promise a turnaround. But investors may not be drinking the Kool-Aid quite yet, as shares were down for most the morning.

J. C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) had a worse morning. The retailer reported a 28% drop in sales during the fourth quarter. Revenue for the full year 2012 plummeted $4.3 billion -- a staggering fall for the retailer as it tries, under the guidance of new CEO Ron Johnson, to rebrand itself. The stock is down 17.8% as of this writing.

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