Unfortunately, Wall Street doesn't ever seem to be able to tune out the static constantly being emitted from the Federal Reserve. It's especially a shame because the top brass at the central bank is divided -- and talkative -- about what they think the best prescription for the American economy is. For example, markets sold off today after the Kansas City Fed President said stimulus efforts should be slowed, a week after Bernanke said the stimulus should continue for now.
A less-controversial indicator, Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) earnings, also failed to impress, and Tuesday saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) lose 32 points, or 0.2%, to close at 15,451.
Chipmaker Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) led all stocks in the index with 1.3% gains. Shareholders are crossing their fingers for an earnings beat tomorrow, when the company reports second-quarter results after markets close. Let's not confuse today's bump with the anticipation of a blowout quarter: analysts are actually expecting about a 30% decrease in profits, and a fourth straight quarter of slumping year-over-year sales. The longer-term hope is that the shift from the PC to the mobile chip market goes smoothly.
AT&T (NYSE: T ) , which doesn't announce quarterly results until a week from now, tacked on 0.9%. Not only was the telecom sector the best-performing area of the markets today, but AT&T announced a new way for customers to finance their smartphone purchases. "AT&T Next" could be very lucrative for AT&T, and attracts customers who want to upgrade more frequently. Instead of being chained to one phone for two years, the customer pays an additional monthly fee, and can upgrade for free after a year.
Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS ) lost 1.4% today, a day after it ended as the worst-performing blue chip in the index, after a second straight disappointing week of box office returns for The Lone Ranger. Disney also just reached a settlement with defendants in an antitrust lawsuit against company-owned outfits LucasFilm and Pixar, and the exact details of the deal are still unknown. The fear is that Disney's summer flop, and the lawsuit settlement, will be a double whammy for the entertainment giant.
Finally, one of the most recognizable businesses on the planet, Coca-Cola, lost 1.9% after the beverage giant disappointed with its second-quarter earnings. Unlike Intel, earnings are on the rise, though they rose a meager 3% in the period. The bigger shock came from sales, which fell 3% globally in the quarter. While the company blamed the sales shortfall largely on poor weather across the world, if the bigger culprit is a shift in consumer sentiment, Coke faces a tough road ahead.
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