The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was trading 100 points higher, or 0.63%, by midafternoon after upbeat retail sales data hit the news feeds. The Commerce Department reported a 1.1% month-over-month increase in retail sales in March. Not only was the result higher than the expectation of 0.8%, it was the best monthly number in the last year and a half.
"This is the first report that activity is bouncing back from the winter weather," said Craig Dismuke, chief economic strategist at Vining Sparks, according to Reuters. "This should set the foundation for stocks to go up a bit and bond yields to go higher."
With that positive trend in mind, here are some companies making headlines today.
3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) was trading 4.1% lower despite a positive, albeit small, development. The 3-D printer manufacturer announced a pilot program to offer 3-D printing services at individual Staples stores in New York City and Los Angeles. The two locations will feature full 3-D printing experience centers to enable individual consumers and small businesses to create 3-D products.
"3D printing offers enormous potential for small businesses, and by using Staples, they can print with the technology without having to invest in it," said Damien Leigh, senior vice president of business services for Staples, in a press release. "The test with 3D Systems will help us learn about our customers' needs for a local 3D printing service, and how Staples can help them make more happen for their business through 3D printing."
This should be a good move for 3D Systems and is another step toward taking 3-D printing to mainstream consumers,Three-dimensional printing has really exploded in terms of publicity recently, which has helped 3D Systems grow profits. But with its lofty stock price and forward P/E ratio near 40, interested investors might wait for a pullback or be prepared to hold for the long haul.
In other news, General Motors (NYSE:GM) stock moved 1.8% higher today. Shares had declined substantially over the last couple of weeks amid a vast amount of negative publicity due to the massive recall of cars featuring a technical defect that has been linked to at least 13 deaths. General Motors announced today its 2015 Chevrolet Cruze will debut at the New York International Auto Show with a revised exterior styling and other updates. The automaker hopes the newer design, which takes cues from the successful all-new Impala, will help the model's sales in the U.S. market. The Chevrolet Cruze is General Motors' best-selling car in the U.S.: sales are up 17% through the first quarter of 2014, compared to the same time frame last year.
While the Cruze looks to be a good story for General Motors, it won't take much, if any, focus off the recall debacle that has thus far ruined the automaker's hopes for an image turnaround in 2014. Things are just as ugly on the investing side of the coin as Morgan Stanley hinted toward tougher times coming for America's largest automaker and slashed its price target for GM from $49 to $33.
"In terms of valuation, we think the stock market's got it right on GM: It's cheap for a reason," says Adam Jonas, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, according to The Wall Street Journal.