Economic Data Buoys the Markets

This morning investors were hit with a number of economic data points that have helped the markets climb today, including a preliminary GDP report indicating that second-quarter GDP was 1.7% and a report by payroll processor Automatic Data Processing's estimating that U.S. businesses added 200,000 jobs in July. As of 12:50 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is higher by 22 points, or 0.14%, while the S&P 500 is up 0.23% and the Nasdaq has risen 0.31%.

But even on days when the major indexes are all higher and economic data is strong across the board, we can still usually find a few losers. So, let's take a look at who is declining today.

Shares of IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) are down by 0.4% this afternoon after the company stated this morning that it is cooperating with U.S. regulators as they look into how IBM reports revenue from its cloud-computing business. In premarket trading, shares fell as much as 1%, but they have since recovered. IBM said it had learned of the investigation back in May. Furthermore, the Justice Department is still looking into a former IBM employee's allegations of illegal activity, as well as certain transactions in Argentina, Bangladesh, and the Ukraine. While the illegal-activity investigation is serious, it's unlikely to hurt the company dramatically from a financial standpoint. But if investigators find that IBM was misleading investors by pulling an accounting scam with its cloud business, shares could really tank. 

American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) is down 1.6% after competitor MasterCard (NYSE: MA  ) reported stronger-than-expected earnings this morning. MasterCard reported earnings of $6.96 per share, up from $5.56 a year earlier and better than the $6.31 Wall Street was expecting. MasterCard performed well due to increased transactions made by customers using debit and credit cards not only in the U.S., where the value of transactions increased by 6.5%, but also around the world. Despite American Express' good second quarter, its growth rates don't compare to MasterCard's, and that's likely the reason shares are declining. 

Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ  ) is trading lower by 0.79% today as investors wonder where future growth may come from. The company is getting an uncharacteristically chilly welcome from our neighbors to the north: A number of the Canadian telecommunications companies are fighting regulations and laws that would give an outsider like Verizon an advantage when competing for wireless spectrum in the country. If Verizon is blocked out of Canada and the smaller telecom companies here at home continue their push to gain market share, Verizon will likely be forced to increase advertising and spending in other areas in order to achieve further growth. That could hurt margins and reduce the company's long-term growth prospects.

As economic data continues to improve and American markets reach new highs, investors and pundits alike are skeptical about future growth. They shouldn't be. Many global regions are still stuck in neutral, and their resurgence could result in windfall profits for select companies. A recent Motley Fool report, "3 Strong Buys for a Global Economic Recovery," outlines three companies that could take off when the global economy gains steam. Click here to read the full report!


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