Approaching midday, U.S. stock markets have done just about nothing. At the time of writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) had climbed 0.7 points higher for about a 0.01% gain. However, the other two main U.S. indexes, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500, are each trading slightly down on the day as well. The lack of activity has been further underscored by today's drop in the market's "fear gauge": the VIX (NYSEMKT:VXX), which also sits 0.9% lower as we approach noon.
What's driving the market
Don't let the lack of activity on the surface deceive you. There have been several major storylines, both positive and negative, that investors should certainly give credence to today.
Shares of shipping and logistics power FedEx (NYSE:FDX) currently hang 2.2% lower since the company reported dropping first-quarter fiscal profit. This alone is enough to alarm investors. But the company further startled the market by lowering its full-year guidance, as well. UPS (NYSE:UPS) also lowered its guidance earlier this year, further casting into doubt the strength of the U.S. recovery.
This is especially important, as the company's EPS performance often directionally tracks the overall movement of the U.S. economy, as you'll see below. If this holds true again, it could mean trouble for investors in the coming months.
On the positive side, a survey of U.S. homebuilders' confidence reached a six-year high, according to the National Association of Home Builders. This further underscores the growing pile of data suggesting that the housing market has indeed bottomed, which could help bolster America's weak economic recovery to some degree.
What's an investor to do?
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Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of United Parcel Service and FedEx. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.