Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is set to open slightly higher this morning after yesterday's plunge sent the index down to a two-month low. Stock futures as of 7:10 a.m. EDT point to a negligible one-point drop at the opening bell. Markets in Europe and Asia continued to tumble as geopolitical worries captured investors' attentions and pushed oil prices up.
At 10 a.m EDT, investors will get the clearest picture yet of how rising interest rates may be impacting the recovering housing market. The pending-home-sales report from the National Association of Realtors is expected to show a small dip in July after sales hit their highest levels since 2006 this spring.
Yes, mortgage rates have spiked over the last month, which may have cooled the market down. However, the overall trend shows a healthy recovery in pending sales activity so far.
That's been great news for home improvement retailer Home Depot (NYSE:HD). It announced a banner quarter last week, with profit up 23% on a scorching 11.4% rise in comparable-store sales. And rising rates haven't spoiled the party yet. In the conference call with analysts, Home Depot CFO Carol Tome pointed out that despite the recent bounce in mortgage rates, housing is still more affordable than it has been historically. "If rates were to move up," she said, "it would peak that affordability index, but we have a long way to go before it would have a dramatic impact."
Meanwhile, yesterday's new stock-specific highs are a good reminder that market jitters have zero impact on the ability of strong businesses to improve their competitive positions. On a day in which nearly all Dow stocks closed in the red and the broader S&P 500 fell by 1.6%, two retailers, Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) and DSW (NYSE:DBI), set new 52-week highs.
For its part, Tiffany's cost cuts and increased sales of expensive jewelry helped gross margin improve to 57.5% from 56.3% a year ago. Global sales growth was key, with the company's Asia-Pacific region logging a 20% spike in revenue. And DSW had success at the other end of the market. The shoe retailer's focus on value helped bring more customers into its stores last quarter, leading to a 9.7% jump in revenue and a 4.4% rise in comparable sales. Neither company was affected in the least by geopolitical concerns.