This morning, investors, homeowners, and basically anyone who lives in the U.S. received some good news on the housing front. The U.S. Department of Commerce released data indicating that the housing market is recovering -- and at a faster pace than most economists were expecting. Construction of new homes is up nearly 42% since this time last year, and while estimates predicted 833,000 new homes being constructed, the actual number came in at 894,000.
With the upbeat news, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is fighting to turn positive for the day, and as of 12:50 p.m. EDT, the Dow is down just 9 points, or 0.07%. So far during today's trading session, 11 of the Dow's 30 components are in the red. Three of today's losers are Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO).
So why are they down?
This morning Caterpillar released unaudited sales results for the month of October. At first glance the numbers look good: Every area of the world in which the company operates posted higher sales this October than in October of last year. The problem arises when you look at the increases in sales during August and September compared to October's numbers. Sales are clearly trending downward in the most important markets -- the U.S. and Asia-Pacific. In August and September Caterpillar increased sales by 24% and 16%, respectively; in October sales only increased by 13%. The trend is even worse in the Asia-Pacific market, where sales grew 27% in August, 14% in September, and only 6% in October. Shares of Caterpillar are down 0.4% so far today.
Hewlett-Packard is not only the Dow's worst-performing stock of the year, but the biggest loser of the day. The company announced third-quarter earnings today which, bad as they were, have been overshadowed by the announcement that the company will be taking an $8.8 billion writedown on the software company Autonomy, which HP purchased about a year ago. Hewlett-Packard also said it is looking into certain accounting practices that Autonomy was using at the time of the buyout. Shares of HP are down 11.3% today.
Soft-drink giant Coca-Cola is losing not only 0.4% of its share value, but also a top executive. It was announced this morning that Coca-Cola's chief product supply officer, Brian Kelly, will be leaving the company to assume the CEO position at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NASDAQ:GMCR.DL). Many believe this is a great move by Green Mountain. Kelly brings a wealth of experience to the coffee company, and now that it operates globally, it makes sense to bring in top management with experience matching the needs of the organization as it moves forward. This is certainly seen as a loss for Coke, but at an enormous company with a bounty of knowledge, Kelly shouldn't be missed for very long.