Markets have been up and down recently, and no one has been spared -- including the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI). Despite good news on unemployment numbers, the Dow hit a rough patch before 10 a.m. EST and fell 111 points by 12:15 p.m. EST. The release of December consumer credit figures at 3 p.m. EST this afternoon may help the index rally a bit before closing bell.
Unemployment claims fell 5,000 for the past week, showing that the job market is maintaining is slow but steady recovery. A large reason for this week's rollercoaster Dow is the absence of big economic news. After last week's barrage of information, many investors have had to take cues from elsewhere -- making the turmoil in Europe a likely influence on this week's price movements.
Coca-Cola is up 1.2% after its bottling partner, Coca-Cola Enterprises, forecast improved volume that would drive growth in the coming quarters. The bottler also announced a 25% hike in its dividend. Coke itself pays a hefty dividend, with a payout yield of 2.73%. The company has improved its free cash flow over the past year and continues to create shareholder value.
American Express has had a resurgence since it announced earnings last month. An analyst favorite, the personal-finance company has been in the process of restructuring and streamlining its operations. With a clear plan for the future, AmEx has proven to be a forward-thinking business that investors admire. It also doesn't hurt that the company is holding its American Express World Luxury Expo, which begins on Sunday and will last for three days. The stock is up 1.7% so far.
Boeing is up 0.4% on great news today. After the company requested approval for test flights of its 787 Dreamliner, the FAA obliged and allowed one special flight this morning. Headed for the company's facility in Everett, Wash., a Dreamliner that had been in Fort Worth, Texas, for a paint job was approved for flight. Boeing is still working on a fix for the plane's battery system, which caused several fires and grounded the entire Dreamliner fleet last month. The changes are aimed at preventing an overheated battery from allowing the heat or fire to spread.
In less upbeat news, Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) took a 2.2% hit after announcing a writedown of $580 million for the company's purchase of Zhengzhou Siwei Mechanical & Electrical Equipment Manufacturing, which was completed in October of last year. Caterpillar stated that the Chinese company had "coordinated accounting misconduct," leading to discrepancies in physical inventory. The company is also facing some headwind after years of double-digit growth. With an estimated 4.4% decline in earnings expected for 2013, the company is trying to manage the blowback.