After fears from Europe hurt the markets over the past two days, investors are patiently waiting for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's press conference, and the markets are all moving higher. As of 12:45 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is up 59 points, or 0.41%. The S&P 500 is up 0.57%, while the NASDAQ has risen 0.58%.
Although the problem in Cyprus still looms, investors are clearly focusing on the home front today, and they would love to hear the same old song from the Fed: more bond-buying and cheap money for all as the economy continues to grow stronger.
Today’s Dow downers
After shares rose 1.5% on Monday and a few points more yesterday, Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) is lower by 0.6% today. The company recently received an upgrade from analysts at Citigroup and announced that it would like to pay for TV channels based on unique views, rather than the traditional subscriber model. The company defines a "unique view" as an instance when an individual spends more than five minutes on a channel. This proposal will likely be met with resistance from content providers, but it's one step closer to the a-la-cart TV subscription model most consumers want.
Shares of JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) have been trading sideways since the Federal Reserve released the result of its stress test, and although JPMorgan didn't perform poorly, it wasn't a standout, either. Investors have likely been trading out of Jamie Dimon's empire and into Bank of America, which has seen its price rise more than 15% since the beginning of March.
While B of A still has its problems, JPMorgan's "London Whale" scandal and recent Senate hearings on the matter have shaken investors' confidence in Dimon's leadership and risk-management abilities. My Fool colleague Alex Dumortier recently dug further into the matter; click here to see what he found.
Shares of Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) are down 1.7% after the company released sales results for the last three months. Worldwide dealer sales fell by 13% during the rolling three-month period that ended in February, compared with a decline of 4% for the three months ending in January. The largest decline occurred in the Asia-Pacific region, which saw sales drop 26%, while North American figures fell 12%.
Caterpillar's most recent quarterly earnings report showed a 55% drop in profit, and management cited weak demand and oversupply. Last year the company cut production to help lower supply, but as sales figures continue to fall, inventory levels will likely increase.
Caterpillar is the market share leader in an industry in which size matters, and its quality products, extensive service network, and unparalleled brand strength combine to give it solid competitive advantages. Read all about Caterpillar's strengths and weaknesses in The Motley Fool's brand-new report. Just click here to access it now.