Low Jobless Claims Data Not Enough to Spur Markets Higher

This morning, the weekly jobless claims report was posted, and for the second week in a row, the numbers of claims fell to a five-year low. Only 320,000 claims were filed last week, which is important because economists consider it to be the normal churn of the job market. At the height of the recession, weekly claims rose as high as 670,000 per week.

But despite what seems to be strong economic data today, investors heard the same thing last week and don't seem to be impressed this week. Therefore, the major indexes are flat as of 12:45 p.m. EDT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is down five points, or 0.04%, while the S&P 500 has lost 0.2%, making it the worst index performer today, and the NASDAQ is higher by just 0.02%.

A few Dow losers
Shares of UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH  ) are down 1.17% today, after gaining more than 6.09% during the first three days of the week. The company and shareholders continue to deal with the changes and uncertainty that Obamacare will have on the company. These concerns can lead to quick and unexpected sell-offs. A mix of fear and uncertainty is likely pushing investors to take profits today, which is causing the stock's decline.

Shares of AT&T (NYSE: T  ) are down 1.32% this afternoon. Yesterday, the company cut the price of its exclusive HTC First phone, which comes preloaded with Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) Home. The phone has only been on the market for a few weeks, and cutting the price from $99.99 to $0.99 in such a short period of time does not send good signals. Analysts are slightly more concerned that this bodes poorly for Facebook more so than AT&T, but it really should be seen a negative on both.  

Shares of McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) continue their decline today after yesterday's poor same-store sales comparison report for April. After falling 1.31% yesterday, shares are down 0.72% today, and year to date the stock has risen 13.64%, which is impressive but still trails the Dow's 15.23% gain in 2013. The company has been warning investors that comps would be getting stronger, and we have seen McDonald's post lower same-store sales numbers a few times over the past six months, but on the whole, the company is still extremely strong. The brand and market dominance that McDonald's yields is astonishing and should not be forgotten by investors.

UnitedHealth's stock drop today illustrates how Obamacare will undoubtedly have far-reaching effects. The Motley Fool’s new free report, "Everything You Need to Know About Obamacare," lets you know how your health insurance, your taxes, and your portfolio will be impacted. Click here to read more. 


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