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Over the past two-and-a-half trading sessions, the markets have been hit with a number of economic reports, which, for the most part, all point to the idea that the U.S. economy is fully in recovery mode. On Monday, the Commerce Department reported that construction spending increased in May by 0.5% to an annual rate of $874.9 billion, which happens to be the highest level in nearly four years. Tuesday, it was strong auto sales reports from Ford and GM, and an increase in U.S. factory orders in May. Finally, on Wednesday, investors were given confidence from the ADP jobs report, which indicated that 188,000 new private-sector jobs were created in June. Economists were only expecting 160,000, so the report was a great surprise, but investors are holding their breath to see the Labor Department's report, which comes out tomorrow.
All the strong data helped push the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) higher by 78 points, or 0.53%, so far this week. The S&P 500 is up slightly more, 0.56%, while the Nasdaq has increased by 1.18% over the last three trading sessions. Of the Dow's 30 components, currently 10 are lower for the week, while the other 20 have moved higher. Let's take a look at the two biggest losers and winners.
Shares of Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) led all Dow losers this week, as shares have fallen 1.94%. The bulk of the move came on Monday, despite any pressing news about the company, but the company's new CEO Brian Krzanich did make comments last Friday that may have caused the move. Brian stated that the company was finally making a concerted push into the mobile chip market. While on the surface this sounds good, if we read between the lines, it tells us that until now, Intel wasn't really trying to compete in the mobile market, despite PC sales tanking over the last year. Further, this tells investors that Intel is way behind the eight ball, and has a long way to come in order to catch up with the competition.
The next worst performer has been Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) , which lost 1.53%. The announcement -- which seemed to have come as a true shock to Microsoft -- that Don Mattrick, the head of the company's Xbox unit, was leaving to go take the CEO job at Zynga, has been the main reason for the share decline this week. Mattrick had been with Microsoft since 2007, and helped pull the Xbox unit out of the dumps and turn it into one of Microsoft's most profitable units. This is a major blow to Microsoft, and the fact that Steve Ballmer is planning on stepping in to direct the unit scares me a little, and tells me that no one at Microsoft had any clue this was coming.
The best performing Dow component this week has surprisingly been Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) , as shares have risen by 2.05%. The main reason that it's a surprise is that there hasn't been any catalyst for the move higher and, at its current price, the stock is not what I'd call undervalued by any means. P&G's price-to-earnings ratio currently sits at 17.6, with a forward P/E of 18. Granted, P&G pays a strong 3.1% dividend and, even with the recent run-up in interest rates, 30-year Treasuries are still only paying around 3.5%. This makes P&G still look rather attractive and is perhaps the reason investors have been buying shares.
The other big winner was United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) , which rose in value by 1.92%. Once again, the bulk of this move came on Monday, when the stock closed the day up almost 2%. My colleague Dan Caplinger noted at the time that the company is well positioned to benefit from a recovering economy; but perhaps, even more so, it will benefit from a recovering construction industry because of its elevator, heating, and air-conditioning units. But, while the company waits for construction to really heat up, its aerospace division, and recently purchased Goodrich division, should help push growth
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