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After four straight days of record highs, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) find their streak in jeopardy this morning. Analysts are pointing to negative news from China, where retail sales and industrial production rose less than expected and consumer inflation rose sharply from the previous month. In particular, industrial-production growth fell below 10% for the first time in four years. Meanwhile, in Europe, Italy had its sovereign-debt rating downgraded to "BBB+," with a negative outlook suggesting the potential for further declines. Yet even with all these headwinds, the Dow sits at breakeven as of 10:45 a.m. EDT, although broader markets are down slightly.
General Electric (NYSE: GE ) is among the Dow's decliners, falling about 1.1%. CEO Jeff Immelt blamed the difficult political environment for some of the reasons why major U.S. corporations haven't spent as much money on capital expenditures as policymakers would like. Pointing to the budget debate in Washington and the need for tax reform, Immelt instead believes that international growth, especially in emerging markets, is the key to GE's future success.
Outside the Dow, Tronox (NYSE: TROX ) dropped 3.9% after getting an analyst downgrade. The specialty chemical maker produces pigment and mineral sands. In its most recent financial report a couple of weeks ago, Tronox noted substantial weakness in its pigment sales, as revenue plunged due to falling prices for titanium dioxide. Still, a rebound in the housing market could pull Tronox up in the future.
On the plus side, Heckmann (NASDAQOTH: NESC ) has climbed 3.4% in advance of its quarterly release this afternoon. The company has been a big player in providing water services to drilling companies using hydraulic-fracturing methods to extract oil and gas, and given the high levels of activity in the industry despite fairly low prices, Heckmann stands to see demand for its services increase over time.
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