The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) reached a new milestone Thursday, soaring above the 17,000 mark as investors celebrated an unexpectedly large boost in U.S. nonfarm payrolls and a sizable drop in the unemployment rate. With the economy creating 288,000 jobs last month and unemployment falling to 6.1%, investors got the message that the recovery is still on course, and a rise in bond yields showed expectations that the Federal Reserve will acknowledge that fact by raising interest rates in the not-too-distant future. Yet even though the Dow was up 67 points as of 11 a.m. EDT, several index components lost ground, with Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ ) and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) among the worst performers this morning.
Johnson & Johnson fell 0.7% as investors weighed the potential impact from further liability connected to hip implants from the company's DePuy subsidiary. Yesterday afternoon, Johnson & Johnson settled a dispute with the state of Oregon over alleged deceptive marketing claims related to the implants, which were recalled after patients complained that the new metal-on-metal design caused unintended negative consequences. The settlement includes a $4 million payment to the state government, and although that's inconsequential compared to the roughly $2.5 billion that Johnson & Johnson expects to pay to resolve patient lawsuits, the threat of other state and federal government investigations could lead to further payments and hurt J&J's reputation among consumers and medical professionals.
Coca-Cola declined by almost half a percent. Putting the move into context, the beverage giant has recently climbed to its best levels in a year, as investors start to feel more confident that Coca-Cola has a long-term strategy to get itself back on a higher-growth trajectory. In particular, Coca-Cola's developing relationship with Keurig Green Mountain has the potential to push both companies into new directions, with the possibility of making Coke products at home through Keurig's planned cold-beverage system unlocking the door to new profit opportunities and changing Coca-Cola's entire bottling-based business model. With today's job gains pointing to better opportunities for growth in other industries, Coca-Cola is likely seeing investors become less defensive and shift money out of the beverage stock into higher-growth plays.
With the Dow Jones Industrials having reached 17,000, the next question for investors is whether the bull market has even more legs to advance further. As lofty as valuations have become, the blue-chip index appears to have the momentum to keep rising as long as the economy keeps growing at a reasonable pace.
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