Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) continued its slide today, falling 114 points, or 0.7%, on continuing worries about the Federal Reserve's stimulus taper and that retailers' earnings could be weaker than expected. The market seems to be leaning toward the belief that the Fed may begin to cut back its bond-buying as early as September. Today, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard added to the enigma with concerns about low inflation and said that the Fed needed more data before deciding to pull back to the stimulus. Stocks dipped and then bounced bank after his remarks. As Bullard alluded to, the Producer Price Index for July was flat, versus expectations of 0.3%, while core PPI grew by 0.1%. Though the $1 trillion annual injection from the Fed should be driving inflation up, that has not happened yet.
With retailers beginning to report second-quarter earnings, Macy's disappointed the market this morning, as its earnings missed expectations and same-store sales dropped for the first time since 2009, falling 0.8%. The retailer finished down 4.5%, and its report could bode poorly for Wal-Mart, which releases earnings tomorrow.
After hours today, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) delivered its earnings report, and shares plummeted 9.2% as a result. Adjusted earnings from the networking specialist did beat expectations, coming in at $0.52, a penny ahead of estimates, while revenue matched the experts' mark, growing 6% to $12.4 billion. Still, investors seemed to expect more from the world's No. 1 maker of networking equipment, as shares had gained nearly 20% since its previous earnings report three months ago. Gross margin also fell 140 basis points, and the company announced plans to lay off 4,000 employees, or 5% of its workforce, as CEO John Chambers said the economy has been challenging and inconsistent.
During regular trading, Home Depot (NYSE:HD) was the worst-performing blue chip, as the market continues to fear that rising mortgage rates could throw the housing recovery off track. Today's drop seemed to stem from reports from the Mortgage Bankers' Association that mortgage applications declined 4.7% last week and purchases fell 5.4%. As the home-improvement retailer's sales are highly correlated with homebuying, the slowdown could be bad news. Home Depot reports second-quarter earnings next Tuesday. Analysts expect a profit of $1.28 per share.
Finally, Boeing (NYSE:BA) shares were down 2%, as yet another problem on a 787 Dreamliner was reported. Today, Japanese airline ANA found faulty wiring in the fire extinguishers on three of its jets. While the problem is relatively minor compared with other 787 issues, it's a reminder that Boeing isn't out of the woods yet with mechanical problems on the new composite jet. Still, the market seems to be overlooking the concerns, as Boeing shares are up 40% this year, trading near all-time highs.