After reaching another record close on Friday, U.S. stock markets are taking a breather today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) has fallen a modest 0.32% and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) is down 0.15% with only modest economic news giving investors direction. The one item of note in the U.S. was a retail sales report that showed a 0.1% increase versus the 0.3% drop economists were expecting. Consumers are holding their own with higher taxes, and the strength in spending is catching most industry observers off guard.
Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) is the biggest loser on the Dow, falling 2.2% today. China's National Bureau of Statistics reported a 9.3% increase in production, below the 9.4% estimate but up from 8.9% last month. Commodities have become a risky play, and investors are freaking out over every data point that may be viewed as negative, especially from China. The new leadership in China is trying to restrain growth to fight off inflation and improve the foundation of an economy that's been driven by stimulus spending over the past few years. If growth continues to be weaker than expected, it will mean lower demand for Alcoa's aluminum, and that's what investors are worried about today.
Shares of AT&T (NYSE: T ) are also off today, falling 1%. Competitor Deutsche Telekom's CEO Rene Obermann and CEO-in-waiting Timotheus Hoettges said in an interview that the recent float of T-Mobile shares will give the company a "chance to win" in the U.S. mobile market. Obermann also said the company is winning customers, which would mean that it's taking share from industry leaders AT&T and Verizon. I don't think this is a reason for concern at AT&T, and the drop in price is a nice chance to scoop up the stock's 4.8% dividend yield.
Shares of JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) were moving higher after a weekend of speculation over CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon's plans. Dimon hinted that he may quit the megabank if his dual role at the top of the company is split after a shareholder vote. He has long had a sterling reputation in the banking industry, but JPMorgan's $6 billion trading loss and a series of investigations by regulators have tarnished his infallibility to investors. At the very least, we know that investors wouldn't be too disappointed if he did quit, otherwise the stock would be down today. Results of the shareholder vote will be announced on May 21, and by then we should know more about Dimon's future.
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 figure out whether JPMorgan is a buy today, check out The Motley Fool's premium research report on the company. Click here now for instant access!