Stocks are taking it on the chin again today after jobless claims came in higher than expected. Last week 362,000 people filed a new jobless claim, up 20,000 from the week before and 11,000 above estimates from economists. This reinforced the theory that the economy is slowing and consumers aren't spending after a tax increase hit on Jan. 1 and gas prices rose in 2013. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) has fallen 0.23% for the day, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) is down 0.49%.
Taking the biggest hit on the Dow were Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Home Depot (NYSE:HD), down 2.7% and 2.8%, respectively. Yesterday's disappointing housing-starts data, combined with the possibility the Fed will soon end quantitative easing, has hit Bank of America and by extension Home Depot, who is also very exposed to housing. There is increasing evidence that the boom in housing over the past 12 months is slowing, and that would be bad for both companies. Today's jobless claims didn't help, and with data showing weak consumer spending after the first of the year, we may indeed be in for a slowing housing market this year.
On the flip side, Boeing (NYSE:BA) is one of only five Dow components in the black today, up 1.7%. The company said it plans to present a battery redesign for the 787 Dreamliner to regulators tomorrow in hopes of getting the aircraft back in the air in a few weeks. The new battery would include new safety measures and would be swapped out for the old battery. Boeing hopes this will fix the problem, but regulators will be stringent in making sure this solves the problem. United Continental announced that it won't fly the Dreamliner until at least June 5, which certainly didn't scare investors off today.