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Economic Data Pushes Markets Higher -- Except for These Few Stocks

By Matt Thalman - May 15, 2013 at 1:03PM

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The bull market continues as investors receive economic data.

As of 12:45 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI ) is up 0.53%, putting it just five points shy of 15,300. The S&P 500 ( ^GSPC 1.42% ) is up 0.65%, while the Nasdaq is running in third, up just 0.36%. Investors are once again bullish today thanks to some encouraging economic data.

This morning the Department of Labor released data indicating that producer prices fell 0.7% in April, which is their largest drop in three years. Two reasons for the large decline were lower gasoline prices and falling food costs. According to a Reuters survey, economists were expecting a decline of 0.6%. This report may be seen more negatively with regard to higher revenue and profits for large companies, but it's a good thing for consumers, as they will likely have more money in their pockets after buying the essentials.

Additionally, homebuilder confidence has increased in May. The National Association of Home Builders reported that sales expectations have risen to their highest level in five years. 

But even though the markets in general are moving higher today, a few losers can still be found.

Shares of Chevron ( CVX 2.71% ) are lower by 0.5% this afternoon. The producer price report is likely causing some of the decline, in addition to a 1.3% drop in the price of light crude and a 2.1% drop in the price of unleaded gas. Big oil companies are essentially at the mercy of the price of oil, and when prices dramatically fall, revenue and profits tend to go along for the ride. But investors need to focus on the long-term picture, not short-term or daily moves, if they own shares of any commodity-based business. 

Both Caterpillar ( CAT 2.78% ) and Alcoa ( AA ) are trading lower after two reports indicating that manufacturing is slowing were released today. The first was the industrial-production rate, which fell 0.5% in April, whereas many analysts were only expecting a 0.2% dip. On the positive side, though, the production rate was revised higher to a 0.3% increase in March. Further bad news for Alcoa was that the industry capacity utilization fell to 77.8% in April after hitting 78.3% in March. This report indicates the extent to which companies are deploying their resources. None of the data released today paints a good picture for either Caterpillar or Alcoa, and investors are trading out of each stock today, causing shares to fall about 0.5% each. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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Stocks Mentioned

Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
^GSPC
$4,577.10 (1.42%) $64.06
Caterpillar Inc. Stock Quote
Caterpillar Inc.
CAT
$196.79 (2.78%) $5.32
Alcoa Inc. Stock Quote
Alcoa Inc.
AA
Chevron Corporation Stock Quote
Chevron Corporation
CVX
$115.14 (2.71%) $3.04

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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