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Not one but two Federal Reserves officials spoke up today about the future of the central bank's stimulus programs and the markets weren't happy with what they heard. Both the Atlanta and Chicago fed presidents indicated that they believe the Fed's bond-buying program could begin to be reduced from its current $85 billion-a-month purchase program to a lower amount sometime this year. There are three remaining Fed meetings scheduled for 2013, and the decision to slow bond-buying could start at any of the three.
These comments and the fear that cheap money will soon be a thing of the past sent the major U.S. indexes all lower today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) closed down 93 points, or 0.6%, and now sits at 15,518. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) shed 0.57% of its value while the Nasdaq led all three lower, losing 0.74%.
But despite the negative comments from the Fed members, we did receive some good news. Mixed in with the Federal officials' comments about tapering were predictions that the U.S. would experience GDP growth of 2.5% during the second half of the year and 3% next year. This bodes well for a company like Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), which operates in the consumer merchandise arena and would greatly benefit from a healthier U.S. economy. Currently, predictions for Procter & Gamble's growth is in the single-digit range, but if we do see GDP growth rates rising, Procter & Gamble will likely benefit and current predictions may be on the low side.
Disney (NYSE:DIS) was expected to report earnings per share of $1.01 on revenue of $11.64 billion, for the same quarter last year, the company reported EPS of $1.01 while analysts expected $0.93 and sales of $11.09 billion. The stock rose 1.42% for the day as investors were bullish on the company moving into the earnings report, which came in lower on the revenue side than what was expected but beat where it counted: on the bottom line. Disney's sales were $11.58 billion and earnings per share hit $1.03. The revenue miss was caused by a 36% decline in operating income from Disney's studio division, which saw Iron Man 3 underperform last year's The Avengers and the studio's bomb, The Lone Ranger. During the after-hours session, shares were trading lower by more than 1%.
Another Dow component moving higher today was Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), as investors pushed the stock higher by 0.55% after Zoetis, the animal health business Pfizer spun off in February, reported a 26% decline in net income for the second quarter. The poor quarterly report from Zoetis indicates that Pfizer made the right move when it split off and sold its stake in Zoetis and that by making such a move, Pfizer is actually a stronger company, despite the fact that it is now smaller.
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Fool contributor Matt Thalman owns shares of Walt Disney. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter @mthalman5513.
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