Factory Orders Rise, but That Doesn't Help Caterpillar

The Department of Commerce released data on U.S. factory orders in February this morning, and the results were better than expected. Economists were expecting a 2.9% rise for the month, but the actual reading was a 3% gain in bookings. Orders in the aircraft and automobile industries greatly improved in February, while demand for primary metals and electronic equipment like appliances also rose.

The positive report was enough to push the markets higher this morning, and as of 12:45 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is up 97 points, or 0.67%. The S&P 500 is also up 0.67%, while the NASDAQ outpaces the others, climbing 0.8%.

A few Dow losers
Although the Department of Commerce's data showed that durable-goods orders rose 5.6% in February, orders of core capital goods, which include machinery and equipment, fell by 3.2%. With that news, shareholders began selling Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) this morning, and the company is down 0.8% at the time of writing. We already knew Caterpillar has been struggling to move equipment based on its monthly sales report, so the news today should not be a shocker.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) is finally reverting to its 2012 trend, which made it the Dow's worst-performing stock on a daily basis. Shares of HP are currently down an astonishing 6.2% after an analyst at Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock. Bill Shope, the analyst, said shares could fall 31% from yesterday's closing price and "sentiment has moved ahead of reality." Shope also said he thinks any gains netted by restructuring will be wiped out by the continued weakness in PCs, enterprise hardware, services, and printing during 2013.

Although the Department of Commerce's factory order report indicated that demand for commercial aircraft rose 95.1% in February, shares of Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) are trading lower today. The large percentage jump owed mostly to one order for 179 planes, and shareholders had already known about this sale. So today's decline is likely due to the company's continued issues with its 787 Dreamliner, and although Boeing performed a test flight yesterday afternoon, a delayed test flight on Saturday doesn't help get the aircraft off the FAA's grounded list.

More foolish insight
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.


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