Low Inflation Means More of the Same From Fed

Microsoft jumps on rumors ,while Wal-Mart is flat after announcing it is entering a new business.

Mar 18, 2014 at 1:00PM
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As of 1 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 81 points, or 0.50%, the S&P 500 rose 0.59%, and the Nasdaq climbed 0.95%. The across-the-board rise in the U.S. stock indices come amid continued calm in the Russia-Ukraine dispute over Crimea and after positive economic data was released this morning. The Consumer Price Index rose just 0.1% in February, following a 0.1% rise in January and a 0.2% increase in December. This is a sign that inflation is under control, despite all the stimulation the Federal Reserve has been giving the economy. Low interest rates will typically cause inflation to rise, but we have yet to see that happen, which likely means the central bank will continue stimulating economic growth.

The biggest mover within the Dow today is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), as shares were up more than 3.7% following reports that the company would release a new version of Microsoft Office that will run on Apple's iPad.This would open a whole new market for the company to sell software, which should help offset faltering sales due to consumers' shift from PCs to tablet and mobile computing. Software has always been Microsoft's bread and butter, so seeing the company attempt to improve that part of its business is very reassuring.  

One Dow component not having as good of a day is Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), as shares are basically flat. The stagnant share price seems a little odd after the giant retailer announced this morning that it would roll out a video game trade-in program. Beginning March 26, more than 3,100 Wal-Mart stores nationwide will accept old video games in exchange for Wal-Mart gift cards. The move is an attempt to draw in customers who otherwise would be going to places like GameStop (NYSE:GME). Shares of the video game specialty store are down 4% this afternoon on the announcement. Many have pointed to GameStop's quarterly results as a reason why it makes sense for Wal-Mart to get into the business. GameStop reported that 18% of its holiday shopping sales were pre-owned games, and that its first-quarter gross margin for the recycled games will range from 46% to 49%. These figures indicate there is a profitable market for used games. However, Wal-Mart is already so large that the additional revenue from used games will not be likely to move the needle. Still, this may help improve overall traffic to stores, which could result in noticeably higher sales.  

Outside the Dow, shares of fashion designer Michael Kors (NYSE:KORS) are trading lower by 2.3% after Barclays hit the stock with a sell rating and an $85 price target. Since going public more than two years ago, Michael Kors has been a great momentum trade as it seemed everyone was rallying behind the company. The Barclays rating is one of the first negative opinions released about the Kors, meaning the stock will likely experience a little more downward pressure from this report than we would otherwise see. For long-term investors the company is still growing rapidly and looking healthy. While the stock may be overvalued today based on current fundamentals, I believe the company still has a long road ahead and therefore I will be holding on to my shares.  

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Matt Thalman owns shares of Apple, Michael Kors Holdings, and Microsoft. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Michael Kors Holdings. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, GameStop, Michael Kors Holdings, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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