Last week was an exciting climb for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI). However, hitting four new record-high closes in a row can take a lot out of investors, who may be taking a more cautious approach to the market this week. At noon the index was enjoying gains of 18 points, or 0.12%.
With no big economic news today, most investors will focus on the negative international news, particularly the new economic worries in China. Reports show that the country's consumer inflation rose sharply, while both retail sales and industrial production did not meet anticipated levels. This news comes only days after an announcement by the Chinese government that it will put stricter provisions in place to manage the country's level of home-ownership, which could dampen the economy further.
3 losers in the mix
General Electric (NYSE:GE) was leading the way this morning after CEO Jeff Immelt highlighted the negative affects of the government's inability to settle the budget debate in the company's shareholder letter. Citing the continued disagreements in Washington and increased regulations during a time of "financial strain" as the main reasons for the decrease in corporate capital expenditures, Immelt says it's hard to see how the country will regain its full strength until these issues are resolved. This isn't a glowing outlook from GE's top dog, and it also doesn't help that the company was also just downgraded by analysts, though the stock's price target remains at $24.
Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is also seeing red today due to issues involving the company's CEO -- that is, it doesn't have one. Despite new product announcements, possible contracts with Apple, and upgrades to its core processors, Intel's lack of a new CEO is overshadowing all the positive news the company should be benefiting from. Though management has had four weeks to make a decision since Paul Otellini's announcement that he would retire in May, the chip maker finds itself in an unfamiliar position, as it normally has a clear succession plan in place.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is headed south so far in trading today. Although the tech giant is taking strides to update its software to close security gaps and is highlighting the capabilities of its new big-data product, analysts have recently downgraded Mr. Softy, dropping the company's price target to $27 based on concerns about the speed of Windows 8's market-share growth and a recent cut in Surface tablet sales estimates.
The bright side
One of the Dow's components has been a bright light of optimism this morning: UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH). Up 1.2% so far in trading, the health care group can largely thank its ex-dividend date on Wednesday for the boost. Though the company has not raised its dividend for the past four quarters, investors may wish to cash in on the company's continued reign as Fortune's "World's Most Admired Company" in insurance and managed care, which it has won for the past three years.
Fool contributor Jessica Alling has no position in any stocks mentioned, but you can contact her here. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Intel, and UnitedHealth Group. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, General Electric Company, Intel, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.