The market has dropped back from its record-setting levels of late to open the week, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) 25 points in the red as of 2:35 p.m. EDT and most blue-chip stocks falling. General Electric (NYSE:GE) dropped 1.1% to the bottom of the Dow after a major acquisition. Outside the Dow, biotech stock Regeneron (NASDAQ:REGN) has been unable to shake off a poor past month. Let's catch up on what you need to know.
Different results for China, Europe
Wall Street started the day with a positive report from manufacturing in China. The HSBC/Markit initial purchasing managers' index in Asia's largest market climbed to 50.8 for June -- nearly a full point above the neutral level of 50 that indicates neither expansion nor contraction in manufacturing, and far above May's 49.4 grade. New orders in the sector jumped for the month, showing that demand is on the rebound in an economy that has struggled to keep growth on track. China's GDP disappointed with a poor 7.4% growth showing in its first quarter, so even with today's result, many economists believe Beijing will need to become more aggressive in its support of economic growth.
Across the Atlantic, however, Europe's ongoing sluggishness piled on the pain for investors today, as the eurozone's PMI declined by nearly a full percentage point from May to June. While Europe's 52.8 mark is still showing expansion across the hard-hit continent, the EU can scarcely afford to let momentum slip away. Germany's strong export-driven economy continues to prop up a number of markets clinging to economic hope, particularly on the European periphery. That's certainly evident in the future growth picture: While economists believe Germany's GDP will climb by 0.7% in the second quarter, neighboring France could be in for a disappointing result given the country's disappointing PMI results this year. Until Europe sees more consistent growth outside of its strongest economy, investors should stick to the reliable German market for gains.
Back in the U.S., General Electric has been the story of the day among blue-chip stocks. GE topped a team of competitors in winning the race to buy the energy business of French company Alstom for $17 billion. One of GE's biggest motivations in the deal looks to be expanding its energy footprint in Asia and Africa, measures to capitalize on emerging economies in order to keep growth churning higher in this business.
GE's power and water division has been among its best units in terms of growth lately, ranking as the conglomerate's second-largest division by revenue while notching 14% year-over-year sales growth in its most recent quarter. If GE can continue to record respectable growth in its largest groups such as power and water and aviation -- the latter of which is the company's largest business and also saw 14% growth in its last quarter -- then investors will welcome this strong stock's performance in the long run.
Outside the Dow, Regeneron's stock has shed 3.1% today despite little news from the biotech company. Regeneron investors have watched this promising stock drop off by 6.7% over the past three months. The company's net margin took a big hit in its last quarter, with Regeneron's net income declining by 33% despite a 42% uptick in year-over-year sales. Despite the fall -- and the stock's struggles -- Regeneron's top product, wet AMD treatment Eylea (which the company co-markets with Bayer), continues to look in good shape as drug revenues pick up. With Regeneron looking to expand its approvals for Eylea, this drug -- and this stock -- could be in for better days in the long run.
Will this stock be your next multibagger?
Give us five minutes and we'll show how you could own the best stock for 2014. Every year, The Motley Fool's chief investment officer hand-picks one stock with outstanding potential. But it's not just any run-of-the-mill company. It's a stock perfectly positioned to cash in on one of the upcoming year's most lucrative trends. Last year his pick skyrocketed 134%. And previous top picks have gained upwards of 908%, 1,252% and 1,303% over the subsequent years! Believe me, you don't want to miss what could be his biggest winner yet! Just click here to download your free copy of "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014" today.