These 3 Dow Stocks Are Winning Today

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is down following the release of worse-than-expected manufacturing data. As of 1:15 p.m. EDT the Dow is down 12 points, or 0.08%, to 14,567. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is down 0.42% to 1,563.

There were three U.S. economic releases today.

Report

Period

Result

Previous

Markit PMI

March

54.6

54.3

ISM PMI

March

51.3

54.2

Construction spending

February

1.2%

(2.1%)

Source: MarketWatch U.S. Economic Calendar.

The one to pay attention to is the Institute for Supply Management's purchasing managers' index. Both it and the Markit purchasing managers' index showed weaker-than-expected manufacturing activity in March. Markit's PMI was down from the early reading of 54.9 but still above February's 54.3. The ISM index, however, fell to 51.3, down from February's 54.2. Analysts had expected the index to remain steady. A level above 50 indicates growth, but the decline shows that growth had slowed down. The cause was primarily new orders and production, which both fell more than 5 percentage points in March. A decrease in manufacturing activity signals lower-than-expected growth in the economy moving forward. There was one positive in the ISM PMI: Survey respondents reported that employment increased faster in March than in February.

Today's Dow leaders
Today's Dow leader is AT&T (NYSE: T  ) , up 1.4%. Today it was announced that AT&T will be the exclusive provider of the 64 GB HTC One; all other providers will only be allowed to sell the 32 GB version of the device. The bigger news, though, came on Friday when AT&T announced a 300 million-share buyback authorization with no expiration date. The buyback is for just more than 5% of the company's shares. The company also declared a quarterly dividend of $0.45 per share that will be paid on May 1 to shareholders of record as of April 10. AT&T pays out a large 4.9% dividend and is a member of the 2013 Dogs of the Dow.

Second for the Dow today is Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) , up 1.3%, perhaps on the news of improving employment. The company's sales were hit hard over the past few months as the increase in the payroll tax combined with higher gas prices to dampen sales. As millions of Americans struggle to find employment, they spend less at Wal-Mart and other large retailers. To get people into its stores,Wal-mart announced the return of its "Great Gas Rollback" program, which gives customers a $0.10 per-gallon discount if they buy gas at Walmart with a Walmart gift card, and a $0.15 per-gallon discount for those who use a Walmart debit or credit card. Walmart U.S. COO Gisel Ruiz said, "For every cent gas prices climb, consumers have $1 billion less to spend." This program should bring customers to its stores and leave them with a little more change in their pockets1%

Third for the Dow today is JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) , up 1%. JPMorgan was the second-best-performing big bank in the first quarter, just behind Citigroup. On Friday, Fool analyst John Grgurich laid out 15 reasons to invest in bank stocks right now. John believes bank stocks have been depressed by investors worrying about the last crisis.

With big finance firms still trading at deep discounts to their historic norms, investors everywhere are wondering if this is the new normal or if finance stocks are a screaming buy today. The answer depends on the company, so to help you figure out whether JPMorgan is a buy today, I invite you to read our premium research report on the company today. Click here now for instant access!


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