This morning the Commerce Department released data on new-home sales for December and the full 2012 year. Analysts had forecast sales to hit an annual pace of 385,000 units, but the actual number came in at 369,000. Additionally, the sales in December fell by 7.3% from November's reading. A number of economists believe this is a temporary slowdown in the housing recovery and do not put too much stock in today's numbers.
It seems investors are taking that advice, as all the major indexes are higher this afternoon. As of 12:50 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) is up 50 points, or 0.36%, to 13,876. Only seven of the index's 30 components are trading lower at this time. The S&P 500 is up 0.39%, while the NASDAQ is up 0.46%. But, as I mentioned, a number of Dow components are still trading lower.
So who's down, and why?
Shares of Wal-Mart and UnitedHealth are down 0.6% and 0.37%, respectively. There is no major news out on either company. The health care industry as a whole is moving lower, with four of the top six companies in the red today. On the retail side, Wal-Mart's leading competitor, Target, is rising, while Costco is following Wally's lead downward.
Shares of Boeing (NYSE: BA) are slipping 0.24% after it was announced that a component regulators needed to determine the cause of a 787 Dreamliner's emergency landing on Jan. 16 was damaged. The circuit board that controls and monitor's the Dreamliner's lithium-ion battery was burnt, as the battery itself essentially melted. This will likely set back investigators and extend the 787's time on the ground, as the Federal Aviation Administration has banned the plane from flying until this issue is resolved.
Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) is down 1.6%, making it the worst Dow performer of the day. The tumble comes after the company released sales numbers for October, November, and December that fell by 1%. Around the world, Latin American sales rose by 14%, while the European, Middle East, and African regions increased sales by 4%. But the North American and Asia-Pacific markets fell by 6% and 7%, respectively.
Fool contributor Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned. Follow Matt on Twitter @mthalman5513. The Motley Fool recommends UnitedHealth Group. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.