These 3 Stocks Are Pulling the Dow Higher

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is down slightly after a better than expected retail sales report. As of 1:50 p.m. EDT the Dow was down 51 points to 15,067. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) was down 1 point to 1,632.

There were two U.S. economic releases today.

Report

Period

Actual

Previous

Retail sales

April

0.1%

(0.5%)

Retail sales ex-autos

April

(0.1%)

(0.4%)

Business inventories

March

0%

0%

The one to pay attention is the advance retail sales report. Seasonally adjusted retail sales were up 0.1% in April, far better than March's 0.5% drop and better than analyst expectations of a 0.6% drop. Analysts have been worried about the effect on consumers from the increase in the payroll tax this year combined with the increase in gas prices. March's drop had analysts worried that this was the start of a big downward trend but this appears to not be the case. Gasoline prices fell during the month and consumer spending on gasoline fell nearly 5%, freeing up consumers' cash to spend elsewhere.

The Dow is being held back today by oil stocks and the tech sector. IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) the highest price component of the Dow and thus the component with the biggest weight at almost 11% is down 0.8%. Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) , the second highest price component of the Dow with a weight of 6% is also down roughly 0.8%.

Today's Dow leaders
Today's Dow leader is Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) up 1.27% to $29.07. Two weeks ago Pfizer missed earnings expectations on both the top and bottom line. The poor news contributed to Pfizer being one of the Dow's worst performers for two weeks in a row. Defensive sectors have been leading the Dow's rally this year as investors worry about the strength of the economy and seek yield. Investors are taking advantage of the stock's drop to pick up shares at the lower price and the higher yield.

Second for the Dow today is JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) up 0.92% to $49.41. JPMorgan is up despite a new robosigning lawsuit filed against the bank last week and investor fear that Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon might leave if shareholders vote to separate the chairman and CEO roles.

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!

Third for the Dow today is Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) up 0.87% to $76.68. The housing market has been coming back the past year and a half and Home Depot is benefiting. As the economy strengthens and housing prices rise consumers become more confident and undertake home improvement projects.


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