As the second quarter begins, investors are clearly on edge about the future prospects of the stock market. After a strong first-quarter advance, investors remember the April swoon that followed a similar rise in 2012 and led to a further decline in May and June that nearly wiped out the year's gains. Yet even in the face of slower growth in the manufacturing sector, demonstrated by the latest Institute for Supply Management data, stocks have been fairly resolute today, and favorable construction spending helped limit the losses in the Dow Jones Industrials (^DJI 1.76%) to 32 points as of 10:45 a.m. EDT. Broader markets were down a bit more, with the S&P 500 (^GSPC 2.47%) falling off its record and losing about 0.5%.
Within the Dow, Intel (INTC 2.46%) helped contribute to the market's overall losses by falling 1.8%. Analyst firm JMP Securities downgraded the stock, questioning whether it will be able to use its Haswell chip architecture to drive future growth. Despite the ongoing challenges that the semiconductor pioneer has faced in trying to catch up with more mobile-savvy chip-makers, Intel has one key advantage that Fool contributor Evan Niu recently discussed: its brand recognition. If Intel does succeed in releasing more mobile-friendly products, then it will benefit from consumers who already know the Intel name.
But Wal-Mart (WMT 1.97%) has managed to rise 1.1% on news that it will roll back gasoline prices in an attempt to bolster flagging sales. Meanwhile, the company says it will spend $80 million on remodeling its Chinese stores as part of its overall strategy to grow in the emerging-market giant. If the U.S. won't provide the growth opportunities Wal-Mart needs, then it's smart to look to international expansion as a way to keep the bottom line moving higher.
Outside the Dow, Tesla Motors (TSLA 7.33%) is the big winner, soaring 19% after the company gave first-quarter earnings guidance that predicted its first-ever profit. With the electric-car maker having drawn huge amounts of attention with the release of its Model S, Tesla now plans to stick with high-margin versions of the vehicle based on demand from customers for its top-of-the-line models.