Jobless Claims Fall; so Did the Markets

As investors focus more of their attention on the issues in Europe, the markets slid lower, even on the heels of positive U.S. economic data. Lower-than-expected jobless claims, strong PMI numbers, and home prices and sales increasing, weren’t enough to keep the markets in the green. For more information on each indicator, check out my Fool colleague Dan Dzombak's article, where he goes into each indicator with further detail.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) closed down 90 points, or 0.62%, while the S&P 500 dropped 0.83%, and the NASDAQ fell 0.97%. And only five of the Dow's 30 components managed to close the day in the green.

A few Dow winners
Shares of Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) rose by 0.5% today, as the markets moved lower. On Tuesday, I noted that Coke was a classic defensive stock and, as investors become more concerned with the market's direction, they will start to shift into the soda king. While I believe that was part of the rise today, the other part is likely due to the announcement that Coke will be cutting its work U.S. workforce by 750 employees. The move comes after Coke decided to change the number of distribution regions from seven to three. This move should allow the company to lower costs and become even more efficient.

More positive economic data on the housing market, which was released this morning, likely caused shares of Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) to rise 0.1% today. First, the FHFA home price index showed that, on a seasonally adjusted basis, home prices rose by 0.6% in January, while the previous reading was an increase of 0.5%.

The other data point came from the National Association of Realtors, which reported homes sales in February rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million, up from 4.94 million in January.  

The other three Dow winners of the day where Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) , which saw shares rise by 0.19% and UnitedHealth, which gained 0.33%. Investors also added 0.41% to Verizon's stock price. All three companies will benefit from a stronger housing market and a lower unemployment rate. But of the three, Wal-Mart is likely the best positioned to benefit from a recovering jobs market.

More foolish insight

Coca-Cola's wide moat has helped provide its shareholders with superior gains in the past, but the company faces some new threats to its continued market dominance. The Motley Fool recently compiled a premium research report containing everything you need to know about Coca-Cola. If you own or are considering owning shares in the company, you’ll want to click here now and get started!


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