The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) managed to post its sixth straight winning streak today as investors seem to concentrate more on company earnings than the macroeconomic data being released. This morning, the Commerce Department announced that new home sales fell by 7.3% from November to December and the overall annual pace, or 369,000 units, came in below analysts' estimates of 385,000. But that didn't seem to matter as the Dow closed higher by 70 points, or 0.51% ,and now rests at 13,895. The other major indexes also ended the day on a high note as the S&P 500 closed up 8.14 points, or 0.54%, while the Nasdaq gained 19 points, or 0.62%.
Of the Dow's 30 components, 17 of them ended the trading day in the red. This afternoon, I explained why three of the Dow losers were Boeing and Caterpillar. To read about why those companies fell today, click here. Or stick around to learn about what caused Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) to move to lower during today's trading session.
So what happened?
This morning, I noted that there was no specific negative news relating to Wal-Mart out today, but that the stock was still down 1.13%. The fall is likely due to the announcement yesterday that India's government has agreed to allow a retired judge to investigate the lobbying practices of Wal-Mart in that country. It is believed that Wal-Mart broke rules pertaining to how companies may lobby government officials in India.
Shares of Hewlett-Packard were also down by 0.12% today. Earlier today, the European Commission unveiled a deal with the computer manufacturer and nine other technology and telecom companies, which aimed to fill roughly 700,000 high tech jobs in the European Union. Firms operating in Europe and in need of upper-level technology jobs have had a difficult time finding qualified workers in recent years. While the EU's 10.7% unemployment rate proves employees are out there, they now just need to be trained to perform the tasks required. Although this is a great public relations move, the downside for Hewlett-Packard and the other companies involved will be whether the companies can find and properly train new workers in a timely and cost-efficient fashion.
Another Dow giant whose shares slid lower today was Coca-Cola. The stock closed the day down 0.16% after its closest rival PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) announced that it was removing a debated ingredient from its Gatorade drinks. A spokesperson for PepsiCo said the brominated vegetable oil will no longer be in the sports drink. The move to cut the ingredient came after customers began complaining about its use. Coca-Cola's Powerade also uses the oil and has not said whether it will be removed. With many consumers now moving toward healthier options, Coke will likely lose market share if it drags its feet on taking out the ingredient.
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