Dow Rising Despite Bad Economic Data

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

This morning investors were given some rather discouraging news about the state of the U.S. economy, yet the major indexes are all rising today. As of 12:50 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has gained 25 points, or 0.16%, while the S&P 500 is up by 0.24% and the Nasdaq is 0.66% higher.

The poor economic data came in the form of a much weaker-than-expected durable-goods number for July. In July, orders for goods that will last three years or more fell 7.3%. That's the first decline in four months and the biggest drop since August of 2012. Expectations weren't high for July -- Wall Street had anticipated a 4% slide for the month -- but the 7.3% slide was quite the surprise. 

Now let's take a look at a few Dow components that are dragging on the index today.

Shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) are down 0.7% today. The stock rose more than 7% last Friday alone and 9.3% over the last five trading days. Today's drop may simply owe to investors taking money off the table after the quick run-up. Friday's spike came after news broke that longtime CEO Steve Ballmer would be leaving the company within the next 12 months. While investors' initial reaction was positive, a little nervousness may be setting as shareholders realize that while they were no great fans of Ballmer, Microsoft now faces the daunting task of finding a CEO who can step up to the plate and quickly get the company back on track.

Shares of AT&T (NYSE: T  ) are also moving lower this morning after Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera filed a lawsuit against the company for pulling the plug on its new U.S. channel. AT&T previously had a deal with Current TV to broadcast the channel, and now that Al Jazeera has purchased Current TV and rebranded the channel, it claims that it was in full compliance with the terms of that agreement and that AT&T had no right to drop the channel from its line-up. Al Jazeera has taken the case to Chancery Judge Sam Glasscock of Delaware, hoping the court will order AT&T either to honor the agreement and broadcast Al Jazeera's channel or pay compensatory damages. AT&T is down 0.8% today.  

Shares of ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) are down slightly today as the prices of crude and unleaded gas slip. The more likely cause for the move, however, may be that the lower-than-expected durable-goods orders are making investors grow worried about the big oil companies. Many products we use, both durable and nondurable, are made using petroleum, and many of the larger durable items use large amounts of the resource. While the negative report does not have any serious long-term implications for the companies' futures, it is nonetheless somewhat discouraging.

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