The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) has taken a slight hit today, with financials leading the way down as the market eagerly awaits the minutes from the most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting. As of 1:25 p.m. EDT the Dow is down 28 points, or 0.18%, to 15,272. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) is down 0.15% 1,650.
There were no U.S. economic releases today. China reported worse-than-expected import and export data, with imports falling 0.7% and exports falling 3.1% from a year ago. A slowing Chinese economy is a big threat to the worldwide economy. We'll get more information on Sunday when China reports second-quarter GDP. The third quarter will likely be worse, given the mini credit crunch Chinese banks went through last month.
At 2 p.m. EDT the Federal Reserve releases the minutes from its June meeting. This is the most highly anticipated release of Federal Reserve minutes since the last one -- but, all jokes aside, it may be useful to read over the discussion and gain a deeper understanding of the Fed's thinking. The June meeting was the meeting one that spooked the markets, particularly the bond market, when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said in the ensuing press conference that the Fed could begin tapering its asset purchases as quickly as the end of this year. The bond markets sold off in anticipation of the Federal Reserve slowing its $85 billion-per-month asset purchases, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury rose sharply to its current level of 2.67%.
Financials are holding the Dow back today for no clear reason. American Express is the worst Dow stock this afternoon, down 2%, followed by Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) and General Electric (NYSE: GE ) . Fool blogger Syed Shah recently looked at American Express and concluded that the stock is cheap.
Today's Dow leader is Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , up 1.9%. The stock hit a 52-week intraday high of $26.70 after Citigroup upgraded the stock from "sell" to "buy" and raised its price target from $16 to $32. The analyst cited a survey of chief information officers showing that HP's business is gaining market share relative to its competitors. Citigroup is late to the HP party; the stock has risen 82% year to date and 36% over the past year. That said, the survey is another sign that HP's business is beginning to turn around.
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