After two weeks of stimulus infused gains, markets took a breather this week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) moved just 13.9 points lower this week and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) fell 5.6 points, both a miniscule percentage loss.
Economic data didn’t give much of a direction with positive housing and somewhat disappointing employment numbers highlighting the reports of the week. But there were some big winners this week and they come from safe stocks as investors put the “risk off” trade back on again.
Kraft (UNKNOWN:KRFT.DL) was the week’s big winner in its last week on the Dow. Kraft didn’t report anything outstanding but competitor General Mills reported a 35% increase in profit and Kraft bounced on the news. Kraft is about as safe as it gets in a risk off trade because even if the economy gets rough again people can’t go without food.
Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) rose 3.0% on the week, helped by an endorsement by advisors to the European Medicines Agency to approve a new anti-clotting drug. The company is has partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb on the drug and, which is catching up with two drugs that are already on the market.
Merck (NYSE:MRK) rose 3.0% as well on very little news but continues the risk off theme. Medical stocks are being seen as a safe play as investors worry about a pullback after a nice jump in stocks over the past few weeks.
Oil was a big decliner on the commodity market and with the black gold now hovering around $93 we can expect a bit of a breather from energy costs. Oil had hit $100 early in the week but higher than anticipated inventories sent the price south. Again, there’s good and bad news for the economy from higher inventories, which highlights another reason markets couldn’t find a definitive direction this week.