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Earnings season heated up on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI), but the fiscal standoff remained the central focus among investors. As talks in the House of Representatives broke down, the blue chips fell along with it, closing 133 points lower, or 0.9%.
Only two days are left until the Treasury's deadline for lifting the debt ceiling, but the House could not get on board with a deal the Senate appeared to have scratched out yesterday. Speaker Boehner decided to delay bringing a bill to reopen the government and lift the borrowing limit as he tried to muster support for an agreement to stave off the approaching crisis.
Outside observers have begun taking notice of the dysfunction, as Fitch Ratings issued a "negative ratings watch" on the U.S., though it maintained the nation's "AAA" credit rating. Several world leaders have also expressed grave concerns about a potential default, and China's official news agency called for a "de-Americanized world," perhaps not a surprise, as the country is the largest foreign holder of American debt. Lawmakers seem to forget that even without a default, these manufactured crises chip away at the United States' trustworthiness at the benchmark status of Treasury bonds. International investors are taking note.
The fiscal standoff forced all but two of the 30 Dow components lower, among them Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), which finished down 0.7% after reporting earnings this morning. The world's largest beverage maker actually opened up 1% higher, indicating a strong response to the report, but macro concerns seemed to overwhelm the stock later in the day. Global volume increased 2% in the quarter, and revenue from continuing operations grew 4% in constant currency, both respectable figures. Adjusted earnings per share were $0.53, up from $0.51 a year ago and in line with estimates. Growth was strongest in Asia, up 5% on a volume basis, while the Coca-Cola brand delivered impressive results around the world. Sales of the flagship soda were up 2% in North America, assuaging concerns about the domestic soda's decline. With its brand power and worldwide distribution network, Coke is one of the most bulletproof stocks on the market. Though its earnings growth is never going to be remarkable at this point, a 3% dividend and expected share buyback of $3 to $3.5 billion, the beverage giant should continue to deliver steady returns for investors.
Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.