Markets Shrug off Syria and Poor Housing 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.

After the worst day since June, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) turned things around today and managed to gain 48 points, or 0.33%, this afternoon and now sits at 14,824. The move comes as investors are concerned about the issues in Syria and a poor housing report.

The National Association of Realtors released data indicating that pending home sales fell 1.3% in July, the second consecutive month in which sales have fallen. Many are blaming the sales decline on rising interest rates although the Federal Reserve hasn't even begun tapering its bond-buying program. This data is concerning to many within the housing industry as they feel that once the Fed does lay off the gas, rates will rise even further and cause more of a slowdown to what many see as a very fragile housing market.

A few losers
Retail giant Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) lost 0.66%. While today's move lower is unlikely related to issues the company has had over the past year at factories around the world. It's hard to forget the fire that killed more than 100 people at the Bangladesh factory, which made a clothing line sold at Wal-Mart or the building collapse that killed more than 1,100. The retailer has taken heat for these events so the company will field questions from investors at a briefing tomorrow, when management hopes it will be able to give an update on what it's done in recent months and allow questions to be asked.  

Shares of Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) fell 1.44% on very little news. The stock did see slightly higher volume than normal today: 9 million over a three-month average of 8.4 million. Shares are also trading in the mid-range of their 52-week high and low, which also indicates nothing out of the norm. But the stock is trading at 19 times past earnings and more than 16 times future expected earnings per share, which may be a generous figure considering the company has been struggling to grow revenues as a few of its most important units falter. Further, over the last 30 days, we have seen analyst EPS estimates come down for the third quarter from $1.12 to $1.06 per share. And the EPS reduction hasn't just been for the next quarter, as the final quarter was lowered from $1.25 per share to $1.23, full-year 2014 was lowered by $0.02 per share, and 2015 was reduced by $0.01.

Lastly, both of the Dow's telecommunications companies struggled today. AT&T (NYSE: T  ) lost 0.33% while Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) slid lower by 0.83%. Both companies pay rather large dividends and boast high dividend yields, 5.2% and 4.3% respectively, which may be part of why shares are falling. Most investors would consider both AT&T and Verizon very stable dividend-paying stocks but low growth companies. As interest rates over the past few years have been low, yield-seeking investors flocked to these high payers, but now that Treasury bond yields are moving higher, investors may pull back out of the more price-sensitive stocks for the safety and consistence of a Treasury bond.

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