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.
It's been a long time coming, but we finally had some cohesiveness between today's economic data and the underlying move in the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC).
Mildly positive economic data was the name of the game today with initial weekly jobless claims, and the second estimate of U.S. second-quarter GDP growth, both impressing. U.S. weekly jobless claims dipped modestly, by 1.8%, to an annually adjusted rate of 331,000. Fewer claims would signify more people are finding work, and should eventually lead to a slow-but-steady dip in the unemployment rate.
Similarly, U.S. GDP growth was revised up from its original estimate to a fairly robust 2.5%. On a personal level, it certainly doesn't feel like GDP grew by 2.5%, but this is remarkably good news for investors looking for signs of strength in the economy after three-plus weeks of weakness in the indexes.
By the time the gavel struck at 4pm ET, the S&P 500 had scurried higher by 3.21 points (0.20%), to finish at 1,638.17 -- the second day in a row of gains.
Topping the list of gainers today is GPS-device-maker Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN), which added 4.4% after announcing a flurry of new devices for cyclists and boaters yesterday. The real buzz, though, appears to be excitement over Garmin's push into the sports-camera market, where it has a chance to grab its piece of some $1 billion in sales. Garmin plans to roll out this new camera, capable of filming during rugged sporting events such as skiing and surfing, next month. The move is certainly bound to help Garmin in its consumer-revenue segment, but I remain concerned about the longevity of its GPS business model with the wireless capabilities of mobile devices rapidly improving.
Beyond Garmin, today was all about the homebuilders! D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI), up 3.6%, and Lennar (NYSE:LEN), up 3.2%, rounded out the top three gainers, edging out poor PulteGroup (NYSE:PHM) by just 0.04%! The message, however, was the same for all three homebuilders. According to data from Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell seven basis points to 4.51% last week, which would be great news for the housing sector. This is important, as higher lending rates have caused mortgage applications to shrink by greater than 50% since May 3. Consumers have been spoiled with low 30-year mortgage rates over the last couple of years and they'll sit on their hands until they see mortgage rates begin to fall.
The other positive here for homebuilders is the upwardly revised GDP figure. To some extent, this is a bit of a double-edged sword because better GDP figures could result in the Federal Reserve tapering its bond-buying program before too long. But, it also signals that the economy is growing more robustly than initially suspected, which would help support a thesis that consumers will continue to buy homes and support the ongoing housing recovery.
Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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