The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is down as cyclical companies weigh on the Dow. As of 1:15 p.m. EDT, the Dow was down 26 points to 15,056. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) was down one point to 1,626.
There were no U.S. economic releases today. There are two forces pushing commodity prices down, which are also sending cyclical companies down with them. Yesterday, the Chinese government announced that producer prices fell 2.4% in April, the largest drop in six months. Prices have been falling since early last year, which signals a weakening economy and is bad news for commodity producers that will be pressured by factories. The second factor pushing down commodity prices is that the dollar continues to strengthen, which lowers the price of commodities in dollars.
Both of these factors sent commodity prices sharply lower -- and cyclical companies down with them. Gold as measured by the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEMKT:GLD) ETF is down 1.5%, WTI crude is down 2.59%, Brent crude is down 2.22%, and natural gas is down 1.13%. Leading the Dow down is Caterpillar down 1.9%, Alcoa down 1.82%, and then the oil companies ExxonMobil and Chevron both down just over 1.1%.
Today's Dow leaders
Leading the Dow today is Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), up 1.04% to $21.40 as the tech sector heads higher. Hewlett-Packard is the best performing Dow stock so far this year, up 50.67%. HP has been experiencing a turnaround as management focused on acquisitions instead of the core business during the past few years. The turnaround hit a stumbling block as PC sales had their worst decline ever this past quarter. The company is pressing on with its changes, which include the ouster of the previous chairman of the board, Ray Lane.
Coming in second for the Dow today is UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH), up 0.85% to $62.54. As a health insurer -- the nation's largest for-profit insurer at that -- UnitedHealth's results are largely independent of the economy. UnitedHealth looks poised to benefit as Obamacare takes effect next year and millions more Americans become insured.
Fool contributor Dan Dzombak can be found on Twitter @DanDzombak or on his Facebook page, DanDzombak. He has no position in any stocks mentioned. 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.